Discus thrower Abdul Buhari is one of the new faces in the British team that heads to the IAAF World Championships in Daegu this month
At the UK Trials last month, journalists were clamouring to speak to discus throwers, a sight not usually witnessed in British athletics. But while wonderkid Lawrence Okoye and Brett Morse were the centre of much of the attention because of the fact one of them was to lose out on a place in Daegu, the winner of the event was rather less in demand.
In what is one of Britain’s strongest events at the moment, with four men over the World Championships ‘A’ standard in 2011, Abdul Buhari has been somewhat overlooked.
However, as Buhari proved again at the UK trials, he can throw in less than ideal conditions and could be the one most likely to perform well in Daegu.
While British throwers have a tendency to underachieve when they get to major championships, could the 29-year-old, who came out on top at the all-important trials competition, be the one to buck the trend?
“I wouldn’t [necessarily] say I’m a man for the big occasion,” said Buhari. “I’m yet to prove myself, if I’m honest, but I’m getting there. I’ve never been to a major championships.”
The Newham & Essex Beagle should have made his debut at that level at last year’s Commonwealth Games, but he had to turn down the place because of injury. In fact, that has been a common theme over the past couple of years.
As he said after winning at the trials: “It’s been a bit of a journey to get here. There have been loads of changes, loads of dramas. I had no coach in 2009 but finished the year relatively strong. In 2010 I cracked my meniscus and tore both adductors.”
Last September he teamed up with coach Mark Wiseman, he has remained injury-free and the effects have been evident. From a best of 59.34m last season – his PB was 61.30m from 2008 – he has advanced to 65.44m.
Going into the UK trials ranked third, he coped best with the less than perfect conditions, recording a best of 63.32m. Along with second-placed Carl Myerscough he booked his place in the team for Daegu.
Looking ahead to Daegu, he said: “As it’s my first major champs, [my goal is] to throw technically well because there’ll be a lot more pressure than there is today and hopefully make the final.”
Not yet funded by UKA, he works two days per week for Credit Suisse and is taking holiday time to be in Daegu. He trains six days a week but only sees Wiseman twice a week. “I do a lot of work myself,” he said.
“I do a lot of background and when I see Mark I have to make sure my craft is ready so we’re not working on old things and we’re developing. It’s difficult and it pushes your mind to the limit, but if it gives us results like at the trials then I’m all for it.”
» This is an edited version of an article that appeared in the August 11 issue of Athletics Weekly