Okoye smashes UK discus record and world age-19 best

Okoye smashes UK discus record and world age-19 best

Lawrence Okoye throws 67.63m to erase dubious discus records from the books
Posted on July 9, 2011 by Jon Mulkeen

One week after Holly Bleasdale set a UK record and world age-19 best in the pole vault, rugby player-turned-discus thrower Lawrence Okoye did likewise in the discus at the McCain UKA Challenge Jumpsfest and Throwsfest in Hendon.

It was a day of near-perfect conditions at the Barnet Copthall stadium, and Abdul Buhari kicked off the competition with a big PB of 65.44m to gain the World Championships ‘A’ standard and go to No.3 on the UK all-time list.

Buhari’s throw acted as the perfect motivation for Okoye, and he responded with 62.59m in round three before unleashing a throw of 67.36m in the fifth round.

It added 99cm to the UK record set 13 years ago by Perris Wilkins – an athlete whose name was synonymous with controversy throughout the peak of his career in the Nineties. Wilkins was once accused of competing with underweight implements and was later banned for a doping offence. Still in action, Wilkins was competing today in the third-string competition and finished seventh with 43.65m.

Okoye’s mark was an improvement of more than two metres on the world age-19 best that was previously held by Australia’s Werner Reiterer – another athlete with a tained past.

Okoye becomes the third British 19-year-old this year to set a UK record after Sophie Hitchon in the hammer (69.43m) and Bleasdale in the pole vault (4.70m). The teen trio have provided three of the six British records set already in 2011, joining Mo Farah (10,000m), Tiffany Porter (100m hurdles) and Chris Tomlinson (long jump).

His 67.63m throw bettered his previous PB by more than four metres, and Okoye now ranks third in the world behind world champion Robert Harting (68.99) and European champion Piotr Malachowski (68.49m), and ahead of Olympic champion Gerd Kanter.

“I felt pretty good warming up, but it was Abdul’s 65-metre throw in the first round that really made the difference,” said Okoye. “That definitely helped, and the standard overall was really good.

“I knew that I had a big throw in me, but when I saw it was 67 metres I just went crazy,” he added. “It’s really good for the event to have three guys over the World Championships A standard, especially with 2012 just around the corner.”

Okoye has struggled for consistency this year. After opening his season with a huge 63.25m, he failed to register a valid throw in his very next competition at the Loughborough International. He then finished sixth at the Inter Counties Championships with just 52.14m. It was only towards the end of last month that he broke 60 metres again, winning the England under-23 title with 61.05m.

“The conditions today were fantastic,” said Okoye, who goes in to next week’s European Under-23 Championships as a real medal hope. “But I’m a realist and I know that conditions like those don’t come around every day. For all I know, it could rain next week in Ostrava. Today was pretty special, but it’s all about hitting the big throws in championships.”

Okoye and Buhari are now the second and third British men this year to gain the World Championships A standard, along with Carl Myerscough. With Brett Morse having thrown 64.49m earlier this year and Chris Scott today setting a PB of 63.00m in third, the standard of the event in Britain has reached unprecedented levels.

The women’s discus in Hendon was also a quality event with European under-23 medallists Jade Nicholls and Eden Francis both setting PBs. Nicholls broke 60 metres for the first time with her winning mark of 60.76m as all four of her legal throws exceeded her previous PB. Francis threw 59.72m in second.