NAIROBI, Kenya, August 8- It took the very last effort and another national record for Julius ‘You Tube Man’ Yego to make history as the first Kenyan Javelin thrower to make the Olympics final on Wednesday night.
With qualification to the medal event slipping as he took the run up for his last effort, Yego, the African titleholder, took one look up and launched the Javelin well over the London night before it sailed past the 80m mark as it speared the field 81.81m to qualify him fifth in Group B.
Moments later, the 23-year-old Kenya Police officer was pumping his fist in a mixture of triumphant joy and utter disbelief of making the apex of his sport at his very first Olympics.
He was ranked the ninth out of 12 qualifiers for Sunday’s final in the first round where Czech Republic’s Vitezslav Vesely registered the leading effort of 88.34.
The African champion progressed through the qualifiers with an opening effort of 79.10m then 79.33m that saw him oscillate between 12th and 16th overall before his clincher that nailed his place in the finals without a doubt.
Yego, who refined his act last year by watching his heroes, record holder Jan Zelezny, Olympics champion Andreas Thorkildsen and former world champion Tero Pitkamaki on You Tube before he won the All Africa Games title in Maputo, beat his own 81.12m previous best set only last month in Finland.
Now coached by Norwegian Thorkildsen, who also made the final with the second best throw of the qualifiers of 84.47m, and Tero Kristian, Yego’s progression since Maputo has been nothing short of stunning.
The athlete who is internally competing with himself to top the Kenyan standard in Javelin since he burst to the scene at the Trials for the 2010 World Juniors in Bydgoszcz, Poland has adjusted his benchmark thus 81.81m (August), 81.12 (July), 79.95 (April) and 78.34 (September 2011) when he first broke the previous best.
Prior to London, Yego enjoyed two stints in Finland where he met Thorkildsen and Pitkamaki, who also made Sunday’s final with his final throw of 83.01 to finish second in the Kenyan’s group.
His surprise qualification to the medal round will come as a huge lift to the team that has failed to spark thus far at London 2012 by opening up another possible frontier away from the traditional distance running.
“My dream is just to appear at the stadium to represent Kenya as the first Javelin thrower from Kenya. It is hard to match what those people do since we are too far behind but competing against them will be enough for me,” Yego who qualified for his first Olympics with B-Standard told Capital Sport before departing to the UK.
He was granted special dispensation by IAAF (Kenya is rated A-Standard) when he threw 79.95m on April 17 at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium that beat the 79.50 B-Standard.
From here, he travelled to Finland where he broke the 80m barrier for the first time with his immediate previous national record of 81.12m on July 22.
“I have greatly improved my technique there since Javelin in Finland is like distance running in Kenya and my dream is to be the first from this country to enter the stadium in the event I love,” he earlier said.
Even if he does not medal on Sunday, Yego has already potted his status as one of Team Kenya’s most resounding successes from London 2012.
“When I did not have a coach, I used a lot of money in Cyber Cafes and the gym to get into shape. I just believed in it and now, I have a qualified coach. Being at the Olympics is a great honour and I hope to inspire more upcoming athletes to look outside distance running,” was his parting shot to before he left for his Olympics debut.