Lawrence Okoye: Jack of all trades defying sporting law
By Tom ReynoldsBBC Sport
If at first you do succeed, try, try and try again. This (slightly amended) proverb sums up Lawrence Okoye.
Elite sport is supposed to be the reserve of the single-minded. Footballers are expected to have been playing the game since they were knee high. Skiers must have taken their first slippery steps on snow long before they started school.
Obsessive devotion is a pre-requisite for global success.
When Okoye decided to switch from rugby - he had been an academy player with Premiership side London Irish - to discus, he didn't even have 10,000 hours available in total before the London 2012 Olympics. No matter.
Okoye's sporting journey
- Scores try at Twickenham in English Schools' U-18 rugby final.
- Breaks his own British discus record with a throw of 68.24m in Germany.
August 2012 -
Finishes 12th in the Olympic discus final.
- Signs for San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent.
Two years later Okoye, then 20, after a brief spell as world number one,
appeared in the Olympic discus final.
Fast forward 18 months and the 6ft 6in man mountain is playing American Football with NFL outfit San Francisco 49ers as a defensive end.
Trying again, succeeding again, while remaining committed to the hard-work principles that have got him this far.
"The most important thing when making a change is the coaching and having someone who is really looking out for you," Okoye told BBC Sport.
"You have also got to be extremely dedicated to what you want to accomplish. Watching other people is important but basically you just need to be ready to do whatever you have got to do."
Hillier, however, believes another sporting career - albeit one that wouldn't rely directly on his athletic prowess - is within reach.
"I could see him being sports minister one day," Hillier added. "I could see him doing that. He's very articulate, he has strong opinions and he likes to express them. I could see him in parliament, I really could."
Rugby union, discus, American Football, politics? Is there anything this guy can't do? Cycling, it seems.
"We hired bikes at a training camp in South Africa last year; what we didn't know is that Lawrence had never been on a bike before," Hillier said. "He was going down this hill and the bike only had a back-pedal brake.
"He was shouting 'help, help' and in the end he put his foot in the spokes of the front wheel and fell off. No, he's not going to have a career in track cycling in the future I don't think."
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