Team captain and 24-year-old Kenyan policeman Julius Yego, who has been training in Finland, sent his Javelin flying to 85.40m in round five, more than three metres beyond his previous national record of 82.09m from the Kenyan Trials in July.
Yego is the first Kenyan field event finalist in the history of the World Championships and his country’s first ever competitor in the Javelin as well as being the first field competitor to captain his nation.
Kenya’s best placing in a field event before this was 15th in the Triple Jump qualification.
But in the end there was to be no medal for Kenya in this event as home athlete, Dmitri Tarabin passed him in the final round with 86.23m to snatch the bronze.
While most Kenyan athletes have shot to fame by turning to their blessed legs, Julius Yego remains in a class of his own after using an online platform to catapult to international recognition.
Yego and history have become synonymous since he won his country a maiden men Javelin gold medal at the All Africa Games in Maputo in 2011 to become the only acclaimed Kenyan star in athletics outside the distance running world beaters the nation is more famed for.
His progression from a downcast teenage field athlete who shed bitter tears when Athletics Kenya declined to enter him for the 2008 World Junior Championships despite his 72.41m throw qualifying him for the competition to leading his nation’s squad for the 14th IAAF World Championships in Moscow in 2013 as overall captain has been nothing short of phenomenal.
Known widely as the ‘You Tube Man’ Yego circumvented the lack of proper coaches in his chosen sport by spending hours at cyber cafes in Nairobi and Eldoret to improve his technique by watching his idols led by world record holder, Jens Zelezny, on the video sharing website, forcing the same authorities who crushed his World Junior dream to parade him as a success in the country’s efforts to expand its medal catchment in the sport.
Since Maputo, Yego has gone ahead to break the national record no less than seven times, his latest best mark, 82.09m, being set last month (July 13) at the Trials for Moscow where once again, he eclipsed the more renowned distance running stars with the performance of the event.
Last year, he made history as the first African Javelin thrower to qualify for the Olympics final in London.
Having attended Soba River Primary and Kapsabet Boys’ Secondary schools for his primary and secondary education completed in 2006, he came to the attention of the Kenya Police head coach, Nicholas Kilisio, who went on to influence the recruitment of the aspiring field athlete to the force.
Yego was recruited by the Police after finishing third at the 2007 national championships with a throw of 61.80m. “We saw the talent in him and decided to take him. He had a small frame but we have bulked him up,” Police head coach, Kilisio said of Yego.
He graduated as a constable from Kenya Police College in March 2008 and was subsequently posted to the CID Headquarters in the outskirts of Nairobi to begin service.
Inspired by the legendary record holder, Zelezny, Yego knew from the start that he was destined to excel in Javelin. “It is my talent and I had interest in Javelin since I was in Standard Six,” he asserted.
-Photo Courtesy of Getty Images/IAAF Photo Assistant Project