Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Julius Yego...the 'YouTube' athlete from Kenya

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Julius Yego...the 'YouTube' athlete from Kenya

Mention the words 'Kenya' and 'Olympics' and visions of world class medium and long distance runners spring to mind. It therefore comes as a suprise that Julius Yego will be representing Kenya in the Javelin for the very first time at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

While being the first Kenyan Olympic javelin thrower might seem a novelty in itself, what is really unusual is how he came to qualify. Having started the javelin as a youth and having no coach capable of training him in the technique, Yego turned to watching YouTube clips in Cyber Cafes to improve his style. He watched clips of world record holder, Czech Republic’s Jan Zelezny, Olympic titleholder and two-time champion, Andreas Thorkildsen (Norway) and former world titleholder, Tero Pitkamaki.

In 2003, he competed in the high school regional championships. In 2006, he won the national junior title and broke the Kenyan junior record with a throw of 67 metres. He won his first national title in the javelin at the age of nineteen in 2008 and defended it in both 2009 and 2010. He earned his first national call up in 2010 and threw a personal best of 74.51 m to take the bronze medal at the 2010 African Championships in Athletics, which was held in Nairobi. In 2011, he still did not have a throwing coach and despite this, he won a fourth straight Kenyan title and then went to the 2011 All-Africa Games and became Kenya's first ever champion in the event, throwing a Kenyan national record mark of 78.34 m.

In respect of this achievement, the IAAF (the sport's governing body) gave Yego a six-month scholarship to train alongside elite javelin coaches in Finland, with the aim of preparing him for the 2012 London Olympics. After two months of training at the IAAF-accredited centre in Kuortane, Finland, Yego returned to Kenya in April 2012 and threw a new record of 79.95 m. This was within the Olympic "B" standard for the event and he will become the first Kenyan person to compete in the javelin at the Olympics. On Sunday, the 22nd of July, he improved the Kenyan record again at Finnish Elite Games Series event in Kuortane by throwing 81.12 metres. In a post competition interview, he said..."I must admit that this kind of a result was a surprise for me, too. I’ve thrown so far only a couple of times in training. It’s been a good time here in Finland and I enjoyed a lot this atmosphere today. I feel very good, just going to London to participate in the Olympics feels very good. Being my first time, I do not want to say I expect a lot of things there. Just being a participant in the Olympics is good for me. If I make the finals, I will be very happy.

The qualifying round for the final is on the 8th of August at 7:05pm.

No comments: