Read, Debate: Engage.

The Youtube athlete

February 19, 2016
tags:#Commonwealth record, #Julius Yego, #Kenya, #World Championship, #Youtube
by:Cherotich Kenei
In the world of middle and long-distance racing, Kenya has curved a niche, as a dominator of the track. One man from “The home of champions” has made his record-holding career through an unusual route. Here, the extraordinary story of Julius Yego.

Since the Olympic debut in 1956, a total of eighty-six Olympic track and field medallists came out of Kenya’s world-renowned athletes and record holders more than any other country in the world. Kenya’s success story includes: Kichoge Keino, Wilson Kipsang, David Rudisha, Lorna Kiplagat, Janet Chepkosgei or Priscah Jeptoo.

Interestingly, a majority of these athletes come from the great rift-Valley region. One of the regions, in this majestic rift renowned for its production of athletic prowess is Elgeyo-Marakwet County. It boasts of world-class training campsites and as its slogan goes “The Home of Champions” - its high altitude has helped renowned athletes build resilience, endurance and clinical finishes. Hence, the reason behind Kenya’s world-class race style and finesse.

However, amidst all things track, one man has managed to rise above this shadow and make a name for himself, in the field events division. Julius Yego is that man. Standing at five feet nine inches and weighing in at eighty-five kilograms, he is the current African and Commonwealth record holder for the Javelin field event with a personal best of 92.72 metres, thrown during the 2015 World Championships in Beijing China.

On the way to fame

This success has brought him much needed fame and accolades. Julius Yego was born in Tinderet in Nandi County; fourth born in a family of seven. His athletics journey began in standard six. Then however, the sport was practised with sticks.

When he finished secondary school he joined the Kenya Police force and it was here that his career came to light. Having finished third at the 2007 Police National Championships, throwing a distance of 61.80 meters, the head coach of the police team drafted him, after he took notice of his untapped potential.

From now on, Yego’s enthusiasm for the sport was fuelled by his love for the legendary record holder, Jan Zelezny of Czech Republic. With him in mind Yego pegged his compass north, working hard to out throw his idol. This led him to be successful in consecutive titles in 2009 and 2010. Sweet victory visited him during the 2010 Africa Athletics Championship when he threw a distance of 74.51 meters, winning gold.

The raise of the “Youtube Man”

This event marked a turning point in his life. Wanting to gain more knowledge having realised that there was no qualified local coach to help him train to higher heights, Yego took to the Internet and Youtube to examine, practice and educate himself on different training techniques used by javelin greats like his idol, Andreas Thorkildsen and Tero Pitkämäki. This move born of necessity led him to be branded “youtube man”, by Kenyan and international media. CNN’s Francesca Church once stated “We heard Yego teaching himself on YouTube to throw the javelin and as a result of his own achievement, he became the first Kenyan to compete in javelin at the Olympics and we thought it was such an extraordinary story of individual determination and we decided to film it,” during the filming of Yego’s documentary in Nairobi. Furthermore, in 2012, he broke the Kenyan national record thrice. Throwing 79.95m(April), 81.12m (July) and 81.81m (August).

His 81.81 meter throw was during the heats for the London Olympics of 2012 that pulled him through to the selected javelin finalist slots, making him, the only African contestant to reach the finals of such a prestigious event. This time his efforts didn’t go unnoticed; he was chosen as a brand ambassador by Orange Kenya (a telecommunications service provider) to market its 3G Internet network as from August 2013.

In 2014, he continued to increase his international experience and exposure. He began a three-meet tour, starting in far-East Asia, then in Europe while at Prague and Turku. His worldwide and national success encouraged and inspired three more athletes to join him: Alex Kiprotich, Fred Kogo and Sammy Keskeny. This being the first time Kenya has recorded this number of javelins. Julius further went on to be chosen as national captain for the athletics championships in Moscow, Russia. There he beat his own national record reaching 82.09 meters.

Moreover, during the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Yego beat reigning Olympic champion, Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago with a distance of 83.87 meters. He later got his second gold in the African Championships, throwing distance of 84.72 meters defeating world leader Ihab Abdelrahman El-Sayed of Egypt. In 2015 with a stable continuous stride he improved his own seasons best leading to his success in Beijing throwing 92.72 meters.

This throw has brought him even closer to beating his idol’s world record mark, standing in at 98.48 meters. Indeed, while most Kenyan athletes have shot to fame by turning to their blessed legs, Julius Yego is a much needed change highlighting that Kenya has a much more hidden potential; if only people took a chance and followed through with their own dreams regardless of the challenges that they may face.

For now, all eyes are on him; to deliver Kenya’s first anticipated gold, in a field’s event during the 2016 summer games.

Article written by:
Cherotich Kenei
Julius Yego - Mr YouTube - Olympics 2012
Yego took the Internet and youtube to examine, practice and educate himself on different training techniques used by javelin greats like his idol, Andreas Thorkildsen and Tero Pitkämäki.
In 2015 with a stable continuous stride he improved his own seasons best leading to his success in Beijing throwing 92.72 meters.
Call to Action
Support Raising Futures to insure Kenya's youth well-being!
Support now