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UEL road to Rio: Lawrence Okolie remains upbeat despite Olympics defeat

Basketball Men team huddle

By Gareth Anstice

Team GB heavyweight boxer Lawrence Okolie has bowed out of the Rio 2016 Olympics after a defeat in the Round of 16.

The University of East London student, who flourished in his opening win against Igor Jakubowski, was beaten on points by second seed Erislandy Savón, of Cuba.

Lawrence, 23, had previously lost to the same opponent in the World Series of Boxing final after suffering a first-round knockout. But he refused to be fazed by the prospect of facing him again, stating before the bout, “I'm focused on trying to win the gold medal and to do that I will have to beat Savon at some point.”

However, Lawrence suffered a disastrous start to his fight when was put on the canvas in the first round again. Although there was a suspicion he was pushed following a right-handed blow, he was forced to take a standing eight count.

The Hackney fighter, who is two years into a Psychosocial Studies degree at UEL, recovered well but the Cuban boxer, who was beaten by Anthony Joshua at London 2012, showed his experience to take a 30-27 win on all three judges' scorecards.

After his defeat, Lawrence was philosophical about the end of his Olympic adventure and determined to build a future for himself in the sport.

“I was cooking burgers while I was watching Savon fight Anthony Joshua at the London Olympics. He was the ideal men to teach me. I’ll learn.

“I’m only 23 so it’s not the end for me because I’ve got time on my side, as well as belief and ability.”

Lawrence’s ‘road to Rio’ is now set to be turned into a documentary, detailing his journey from a raw beginner who only took up boxing because he was clinically obese and who ended up fighting at an Olympic Games.