Julius Yego is the best javelin thrower in Kenya. In this story by Justin Lagat, we learn about a man who has developed his craft mostly on his own, and has gained the respect of many of his countrymen and women.
Julius Yego; Kenya’s Team Captain to Moscow, by Justin Lagat
A few days ago, Athletics Kenya named Julius Yego to be the team captain of the Kenyan athletes team traveling to the world championships in Moscow this month. Janeth Jepkosgei, the Osaka 800m world champion, will be his assistant.
In this competitive world, it always pays to try something different from the rest. After reaching the finals of the javelin throwing event at the London Olympics last year, Julius Yego now commands even more popularity in the country than those who managed to win medals at the games, safe for David Rudisha whose running was spectacular.
The reason why Yego has become a very celebrated athlete in Kenya is because he ventured into the Javelin despite the fact that he originates from the community that is known worldwide to produce the greatest middle and long distance runners in the world. The history of his training is also different from that of other professional athletes; he did not have a coach to guide him. He watched video clips from the You Tube site and learned the best throwing techniques all by himself.
Orange Kenya, a telephone service provider, decided to enter into an endorsement deal with Yego to promote their internet services in an aggressive campaign earlier this year that saw pictures of the Javelin thrower put up on billboards across the country. The slogan of the campaign was; “Opportunity changes with Orange”. Yego himself becomes the epitome of an individual who turned to the internet for an opportunity to realize his greatest dreams in life.
“At Orange, we view the Internet as a solution and mobile Internet as a solution in your hands. Yego is the first of many who will give us the privilege of telling their story of a dream that became a reality through mobile Internet,” Orange Chief Executive Officer Mickael Ghossein had said concerning their decision to involve Yego in their promotion.
At the Kenyan trials that happened on 13th July, Yego improved his previous record throw of 81.81 that saw him qualify for the finals at the London Olympics where he finished 12th, setting a new national record of 82.09 meters.
Before the London Olympics, he had broken a 14-year old national record of 78.20 meters with a throw of 78.34 meters at the All African Games before improving it at the Finnish Elite Games Series event in Kuortane, Finland, in July last year, throwing 81.12 meters.
“I felt nothing as the javelin cruised so well. It means I got the technique well and that is what I have been working on,” Yego said, after his PB throw at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi. He said what matters most in Javelin is getting the technique right, and he is glad he now seems to be getting better at the art.
Yego, who appeared more energetic and robust at the national trials than he was at the Olympic Games, says he aims for an 85 meter throw at the World Championships in Moscow. And as though to confirm the seriousness of what he is promising, he was the first athlete to report at the national training camp at the Kasarani complex in Nairobi.
Because of the great publicity he had earned across the country by working with Orange Kenya, the crowds at the stadium during the Kenyan trials were ecstatic as they watched him throw the javelin. Perhaps it was the crowds that motivated him to throw his personal best mark.
However, it may have come as a surprise to many when he was named as the captain of the team to Moscow because there are other athletes in the group who have been able to win multiple medals for the country in world events; Asbel Kiprop and Ezekiel Kemboi topping the list.
Perhaps the move to name Yego as the team captain should serve as a motivation to other athletes specializing in events other than middle and long distance running, which will in turn ensure more medals for Kenya in future world events. I am looking forward to a medal for Kenya in the field events and also hopefully in the sprints where Maurine Jelagat will represent the country in the women’s 400m.