New UK Athletics head coach Peter Eriksson insists he will be searching inside Lawrence Okoye’s head as he bids to help him put his London 2012 nightmare firmly behind him.
Croydon Harrier Okoye, pictured, was in with a genuine shout of a podium finish on his Olympic debut at London 2012 this summer, heading to Stratford ranked fourth in the world in the discus.
But, despite matching his world ranking in qualifying, it all unravelled for the 21-year-old and he finished 12th and last in the final, leaving him questioning his future in the sport.
Okoye decided to stick with athletics, shunning a return to rugby, and will be looking to prove to Charles van Commenee’s replacement Eriksson that he made the right choice.
Eriksson is already impressed by what he sees in Okoye, although he admits that talent is only half the fight and that he must win the battle in their mind first and foremost.
“I think we have a lot of great young athletes and coaches on the Olympic side like Lawrence and I think we can do better and better as we continue,” said Eriksson, speaking at the UK Coaching Awards, supported by Gillette, where he won High Performance Coach of the Year.
“I think we have a lot of athletes under the age of 23 that we can take from medal contenders to medallists. The ground roots are already there and although it is a big leap I believe that we can do it.
“We have brought in Dr Steve Peters to work on the psychology side of things like he did with British Cycling and he will be important to help us out and prepare for the future because I think we can do much better on the psychology side of things.”
The first real chance that Okoye will have to impress new boss Eriksson will be at next year’s World Championships in Moscow.
Gillette’s support of the UK Coaching Awards follows its partnership with sports coach UK earlier this year as part of the ‘Great Starts’ campaign, introduced to celebrate coaches and inspire the next generation by awarding coaching grants.