Lawrence Okoye won’t dwell on NFL past as he makes Olympic return

Lawrence Okoye wants to forget about the past.

The 29-year-old is preparing for his Olympic discus comeback in Tokyo after nine years away from Team GB.

Okoye finished 12th at London 2012 and a year later he quit the circle and signed for the San Francisco 49ers in an attempt to crack the NFL.

American Football – NFL International Series 2013 – San Francisco 49ers v Jacksonville Jaguars – Wembley Stadium
Okoye joined the San Francisco 49ers in 2013. (Andrew Matthews/PA)

In four-and-a-half years, which included spells with the Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins, he failed to play a competitive game.

It is something Okoye appears keen to move on from as the Olympics, which officially opens on Friday, loom.

He said: “It’s hard, it’s been a very interesting journey for me but I don’t think about anything from the past – at all. I’m just focused on performing well this year.

“I’m very much focused on my day-to-day life, I’m never really thinking that way, about what has happened previously. I’m quite singular in my approach at the moment and I’m not really harking back to any other times.

“Just being an athlete for such a long time, regardless of the sport, I have become very professional in what I do. My training habits, nutrition, sleep. I’m very focused on all those things and the sheer time I’ve spent playing sport has allowed me to develop those good habits.

“Those carry on with me every day. I don’t spend much time focusing on things I have done in the past. The only way those things help me is in the way I approach my day-to-day life.”

He won the British Championships with a throw of 61.71m in Manchester last month after winning the discus at the European Team Championships in Poland.

The British record holder, who threw 68.24m in 2012, remains confident he can challenge in Tokyo, with his best effort of 67.13m this year 4.27m behind world leader Daniel Stahl of Sweden.

“I’m in excellent shape physically, mentally I’m very focused but technically I’m a bit hit and miss,” he told the PA news agency. “I was a little bit disappointed with my performance at the championships, I did win but I didn’t perform that great.

Muller British Athletics Championships 2021 – Day Two – Manchester Regional Arena
Okoye won the British title last month. (Martin Rickett/PA)

“Hopefully I can iron out the little issues I have to ensure I can throw as far as I am capable of.

“Skill-wise I’m capable of being able to do extremely well in Tokyo. Will I have the courage to do that? We’ll see. But that is what sport is, people who are the greatest perform their best at the highest level.

“We’ll see if I can do that but if I can do what I am capable of, I can do extremely well.

“I always said I could always come back, which I have done, to maybe do two, three or four more Olympics. I have only been back for around two years so it’s not the best preparation but the fact I am where I am now is a great sign.”