x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Olympic discus thrower Lawrence Okoye eyes unlikely switch to NFL

The British record holder hopes his impressive performance for scouts at the Super Regional Combine will be enough to secure him a place in the NFL draft.

British discus thrower Lawrence Okoye hopes to make the switch to the NFL.
British discus thrower Lawrence Okoye hopes to make the switch to the NFL.

A British Olympian who has never played American football in his life could become an unlikely draftee in the National Football League next season after ending his discus career for a crack at gridiron.

Lawrence Okoye, who holds the British record in discus, has opted to try to secure a place in the NFL despite having never played the sport at any level.

But the 21-year-old, who finished 12th in the finals of the London 2012 Olympic discus competition, is now being touted as a possible late-round draft pick after impressing at the super regional combine in Atlanta.

The move comes after a Norwegian amateur footballer was invited to try his skills in the NFL following a YouTube video showcasing his ability.

"It was a tough decision," he admitted.

"I could not really turn down the opportunity that I had. If I was ever going to do it, this was the time. I am not worrying too much about the past and instead just thinking more about my day-to-day future.

"It has been in the back of my mind for a long time. I am leaving a sport in which I excelled, but could not really turn down the opportunity.

"I am a world-class athlete and working with world-class coaches can make me a world-class football player."

Okoye's rise to prominence comes on the back of him impressing NFL scouts at the combine, an event from which participants are usually signed after the draft with extremely slim hopes of ever seeing an NFL field.

One of those in attendance was Gil Brandt, the 80-year-old scout-turned-analyst who spent three decades as the Dallas Cowboys' leading talent evaluator.

In an NFL.com column, Brandt claimed the Brit "stood out the most" in a field exceeding 200 and "put on a real, first-class show" - words that have served to increase Okoye's already-noticeable confidence.

"Teams came to watch me in Atlanta, were impressed and I have since been exposed to more teams," he added.

"I am not getting carried away with what has happened so far.

"I was really chuffed to hear what he (Brandt) said. It was nice for him to see the potential and athletic ability that I have, but there is a lot more than just that needed. I have to make sure I work hard."


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