Discus thrower Lawrence Okoye says he is now concentrating on becoming a professional American Football player, despite not having played the sport before.
The 21-year-old Brit was rated fourth in the world at discus within 20 months of taking up the event and finished 12th in the London Olympics last year but could be set to turn his back on the sport.
Having impressed scouts with his speed and strength at a Super Regional Combine workout in Atlanta earlier this month, Okoye is hoping to be a late-round pick as a defensive end in the NFL draft, which gets underway next Thursday.
Okoye says trying his hand at American Football is not a decision he made in haste.
“It has been in the back of my mind for a long time,” he said.
“I am leaving a sport in which I excelled but could not really turn down this opportunity.
“I am a world-class athlete and working with world-class coaches can make me a world-class football player.”
First class show
Gil Brandt, a renowned evaluator of possible NFL talent, watched Okoye in Atlanta and, in an NFL.com column, he wrote that the Brit “stood out the most” in a field exceeding 200 and “put on a real first-class show”.
Okoye remarked: “I was really chuffed to hear what he 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.
“Teams came to watch me in Atlanta, were impressed, and I have since been exposed to more teams, but I am not getting carried away with what has happened so far.”
If he is signed by an NFL franchise, Okoye would probably have to spend at least a year on the practice squad, learning the intricacies of his new sport, before he could be placed on the active roster.
“I am not delusional enough to think I am just going to walk in and get on to a team,” he said.
“But I am not putting limits on myself either. Who knows? I could play this year, next year, or even in four years.
“I am not going to say that I am definitely going to be on the roster, because nobody knows the future. I am just going to keep working hard on a day-to-day basis and make sure I am doing everything I can to get to the league and make an impact.”