London 2012: Abdul Buhari combines banking with discus

By Jessica CreightonOlympic sports reporter

There are not many elite athletes that also double up as big city bankers.

But Abdul Buhari is not like most elite athletes.

The British discus champion balances training for the London Olympics with working for global investment bank Credit Suisse.external-link

With military precision, Buhari separates his time between London, where he works in Operations Support, and Loughborough, where he trains.

"My weekly schedule seems to hold a bit of a reputation in track and field," the Newham and Essex Beagle club member laughed.

"I work (at Credit Suisse) two days a week - Mondays and Tuesdays. Monday after work I do a weights session. Tuesday evening I travel to Loughborough where I spend my time until Sunday evening.

Buhari combines that with weekly trips to a sports nutritionist and physiotherapist and a sports psychologist, which he sees every fortnight.

"Being a pro athlete isn't easy. It's demanding at the best of times. The key for me is to stay organised, stay patient and most importantly be committed to everything I do," he told BBC Sport.

Buhari's journey to becoming one of the top discus throwers in Britain has intertwined perfectly with their rise as a developing discus throwing nation.

The 29-year-old is one of four British men to have thrown the Olympic A-standard of 65m - unprecedented in British discus.

Just as Britain has travelled a long, tortuous journey into the discus throwing limelight - having no representatives at the 2008 Games to possibly having the maximum of three in London - Buhari's passage to the top has been fraught with injuries.

"I've had enough injuries to write a book," says the former 400m runner, reeling off a long list including torn abductors and cracked knees.

However, there is one injury in particular that he says has made him the athlete he is today.

"I tore both abductors, one off the bone," he said. "I was given the choice to take an injection to numb the area, which would have allowed me to go the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, but there was a chance I could have ruptured it further.

"I chose to rehab conservatively (without the injection) and it paid dividends for 2011 because it was my most successful year domestically and internationally."

Indeed, last year Buhari set a new personal-best of 65.44m, became British champion and was selected for his first major international competition - that year's World Championship.

"The injuries, whilst being bad timing, also gave me to the opportunity to grow as an athlete and a person," he said. "Most importantly, they've taught me how to stay patient."

When Buhari takes to the discus circle for the British Olympic trials on Sunday 24 June, he will be one of four men competing for a maximum of three places on the GB squad.

The 20-year-old British record holder Lawrence Okoye, Brett Morse and recently re-instated Carl Myerscough have all also thrown the Olympic A-standard.

Britain weren't able to send any discus throwers to the 2008 Olympics nor the 2009 World Championships, but by the 2011 Worlds last August, selectors had a choice of four men to choose from - Buhari, Myerscough and Morse were selected.

Only Morse made the final, but Buhari knows it will be different this summer.

"We're a force to be reckoned with," he said.

"A lot of countries are standing up and taking note that GB discus throwing is quite serious."

Buhari's coach, Mark Wiseman, who is only able to coach his athlete twice a week, has seen the sport reach new levels in the past few years.

"It would be very easy to be throwing 61m and be the top thrower in the UK, as has been the case in the last three or four years," he told BBC Sport.

"Now if you're throwing 61m, you could be 5th or 6th in the UK. Globally we're probably the highest-ranked discus nation right now, ahead of the Germans - they've got world champion Robert Harting, but they haven't got that much strength in depth.

"If it was a discus relay race, I think GB would win it."

Free time for Buhari is a rarity, but any that unexpectedly comes along in his hectic schedule is spent with his wife who, despite him marrying in 2010, is yet to go on honeymoon.

"We had anticipated I'd be going to the 2010 Commonwealth Games so didn't schedule a honeymoon," he said.

"Two years later, we still haven't gone on a honeymoon - the aim is post-2012 Games.

"Otherwise I probably won't be allowed back home."