In a country predominantly filled with runners and where the conventional athletic sport is track events, Julius Yego became an unconventional champion in Kenya.
Julius Yego is the world champion who made an African record throw of 92.72 meters at the World championships in Beijing, China.
He wanted to be an athlete but could not run, and in a place like Kenya, that is some bad news. He discovered the flexibility of his right wrists and decided to carve a niche for himself in Javelin.
“Javelin is the sport in me, part of my blood,” he said. “I can’t sprint. I can’t compete in the 800 meters or the 100 meters. Javelin is the main talent I had.”
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Yego lives on the highland of the Rift Valley, a place which has bred a number of Olympic sprinters. While there’s an availability of sprint trainers, the same cannot be said for Javelin and other field events.
Yego, determined not to give up decided to make good use of what was available to him. He would make javelins out of sticks cut from trees and watch youtube in order to gain skills and knowledge.
The Javelin medallist told CNN that he practiced with Youtube. He constantly watched videos that helped him learn, particularly those of Andreas Thorkildsen, a Norwegian javelin thrower who competed in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. He would watch his style of throwing and techniques and practice them.
“I do not have a coach, my motivation comes from within. Training without a coach is not an easy thing… I watched YouTube and it really paid off for me, to see the training techniques and skills they are using.”
He became the first Kenyan to win a gold medal in a field event rather than track events which the east African country is usually known for.
Julius Yego has now qualified for the Rio Olympics men’s javelin throw final which will hold on Sunday, 21 August.