1. ITV Report

Olympian Lawrence Okoye among three Brits pursuing American sporting dream

Great Britain's Lawrence Okoye saw his medal hopes dashed in front of his home crowd last summer. Photo: Dave Thompson/PA Archive

Olympic discus thrower Lawrence Okoye has never played American football before, but is remarkably among three Britons who could turn professional by joining an NFL team.

The Londoner, who finished 12th in the men's discus final at London 2012, has reinvented himself over the past year as a potential pick for a team in the National Football League Draft, which begins tonight.

The annual selection process in New York sees the 32 NFL teams take it in turns to select the new wave of non-professional players in a series of rounds.

At 6ft 6in and 21-stone, Okoye recently impressed scouts at tryouts in Texas who believe he could adapt his strength, speed and core discus skills to enjoy a career in their sport.

Lawrence Okoye has said he is enjoying doing a sport that is taking him outside his "comfort zone". Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Archive

Like Okoye, Manchester-born Menelik Watson was a newcomer to American football just two years ago, but has since earned serious pedigree in the sport.

A move to the NFL will complete a rags to riches sporting dream for the 24-year-old, who grew up impoverished in Manchester and saw his hopes of making a living playing the British brand of football end with a nasty ankle injury in his teens.

Watson also tried his hand at basketball and boxing, before a scout spotted the potential for him to use his powerful 6ft 6in and 22-stone frame in American football in 2011.

The experience was an instant success and after excelling in his single season at Florida State university, Watson has been deemed ready to embark on a highly-lucrative professional career.

Tipped to be selected by a team in the first-round of the Draft will make him among the 32 most desired players entering the league.

Tom Wort (centre) has played in some of America's biggest college games with the Oklahoma Sooners. Credit: REUTERS/Mike Stone

Completing the British trio is 22-year-old Tom Wort from harboured dreams of joining the NFL as a teenager in Crawley, West Sussex.

He moved with his family to the US at 14, eventually settling in Texas where he began excelling in the high school leagues.

Wort has gone on to enjoy a good career in the college leagues at the University of Oklahoma and is tipped as an outside chance to land a contract with a professional team.

The first round of this year's NFL Draft takes place tonight at New York's Radio City Music Hall, with subsequent rounds taking place across the following days.

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