Beijing Stories: "Watching History", Historic Podium in Men's Javelin: Two Medalists from Africa, by Mark Cullen


The men's javelin last night was a historic event. In this column, Mark Cullen of, writes on the significance of two African medals in the Men's javelin.

Yego_JuliusFL-Beijing15.JPGJulius Yego, photo by

"Watching History"

Historic Podium in Men's Javelin: Two Medalists from Africa

by Mark Cullen

The podium in the men's javelin looks quite different than it ever has before.

Once the province of Northern and Central European countries, tonight's podium looks like this:

Gold Kenya Julius Yego

Silver Egypt Ihab Abdelrahman El Sayed

Bronze Finland Tero Pitkamaki

Until tonight, the IAAF World Championships men's javelin final had been held 14 times.

42 medals had been awarded - and there were no ties.

Of these 42 medals, 37 were won by European countries, 3 by North America, 1 by Asia, and 1 by Africa.

Tonight, two of the three were won by Africa.

It is a truism in track and field that the simpler the event the more diverse the medal winners. Put on a pair of race walking shoes and the medalists come from six continents. Put on a pair of running shoes and socioeconomic barriers to World and Olympic success begin to fall away.

But the more highly technical the equipment required for an event, the more likely the medalists are to come from an increasingly narrow geographic and socioeconomic range.

The smaller world we live in is one of the reasons access to technical events is broadening. Tonight's winner, Julius Yego, is well known in Kenya as "The YouTube Man." He is a self-taught javelin thrower who says in a video he produced, "My coach is me, and my YouTube videos."

At the end of the most famous of his self-produced videos, Yego says, "As the world progresses, everything changes."

It does, indeed.

The medal ceremony for the men's javelin will be held Thursday evening, August 27, at 16:35.

Take a moment to watch it.

You'll be watching history.

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