Croydon lad Okoye takes his American football bow


by Andrew McSteen

Lawrence Okoye, nicknamed ‘Great Brit’ by his teammates, made his debut for the San Francisco 49ers last night in their opening pre-season game of the new NFL season, but was on the losing side against the Denver Broncos.

The 49ers went down 10-6 at home, but the game was an opportunity for both coaches to experiment with tactics and try out new players and Okoye got his chance right at the end of game when he was put into the mix by coach Jim Harbaugh at right defensive end.

The Broncos, concerned about the physical strength of Okoye, directed two players straight at him to drive him back on two plays in their final attacking drive of the match which resulted in a 46-yard field goal scored by Matt Prater.

Okoye’s time on the field may have been short, but he interacted with his new team-mates well, even congratulating Dan Skuta with a slap on the helmet after the linebacker completed a sack on the Broncos back-up quarterback Brock Osweiler.

Despite the limited minutes last night, getting on the field represents massive progress for Okoye just a year and day since his disappointing 12th-place finish in the London 2012 Olympic discus final.

The Croydon-born 21-year-old can learn from his brief experience and will be hoping to feature in the next 49ers pre-season game when they travel to the Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, to face the Kansas City Chiefs on August 16.


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