May 21 2013 Latest news:
Nathaniel John, Olympic reporter
Monday, August 6, 2012
Croydon’s Lawrence Okoye sailed through to the discus final this morning with a throw of 65.28 metres in the qualification heats at the Olympic Stadium.
The former Whitgift School pupil didn’t get off to the best of starts, though, as he seemed to try too hard in his first effort, which was recorded as a foul as it fell outside of the landing sector, narrowly missing a group of photographers.
However, the 20-year-old made amends with his next effort, as he threw 63.00, which lifted him to 13th place after the second round of throws.
Needing to better his previous throw with his last effort, the former London Irish Academy rugby player didn’t let the 80,000 crowd down, as he threw a monumental 65.28 to finish the session in fourth place, and giving the 6ft 6in, 20-stone Croydon Harrier a real chance of a medal in the final, tomorrow night (Tuesday), which starts at 7.45pm.
Okoye was put in a tough qualification Group B, with the top three of Gerd Kanter (66.39), Robert Harding (66.24) and Jorge Fernandez (65.34) all throwing alongside the Londoner.
Had the Croydon man competed in the earlier Group A, Okoye would have won the session by eight centimetres, with India’s Vikas Gowda only throwing 65.20 to qualify for the final.
Okoye was delighted with his performance: “It was crazy, the standard was unbelievably high,” he said.
“I came here not thinking I would have to pull out a throw as big as that, but the crowd pulled me through and I pulled it out of the bag.
“Now I just have to go back and rest and do my best in the final, that’s all I can do.”
Meanwhile, Newham & Essex Beagle Abdul Buhari was left disappointed by his failure to qualify for the final.
The 30-year-old, whose personal best is a throw of 65.44 metres which he set last year, was way short of that mark.
In his first two throws as he managed 54.20m and 55.78m, before he saved his best throw for the third and last round of the qualifying.
However, his effort of 60.08m was only enough for 29th place of the 41 qualifiers.
Buhari said: “The crowd have been amazing, it is an unbelievable environment. This is just qualifying, but it was just an amazing atmosophere out there.
“I am incredibly disappointed, my timing was slightly out, and there is no excuse for it. Right now I am absolutely devastated. I can only build on it and try and be poisitive and hopefully learn from that.”
Buhari believes that he hasthe ability to make a splash in the discus world if he can get it right.
“Reaching finals is something I know I can do, but I need to strengthwn my technical base,” he said.
“If I do that, making finals will be the east of my worries, I will be thinking about medalling.”
Fellow Brit Brett Morse was further back with a best throw of 58.18m.