Mon 15 Aug 2016, 10:54
CNN’s African Voices profile Julius Yego in its Rio Olympics Special
Every four years at the Olympics, champions emerge who captivate and inspire. Their superhuman stories of sacrifice and the search for excellence begin long before they arrived in Rio.
A special edition of African Voices this week includes a report from Nairobi, Kenya, meeting Julius Yego.
Tune in to Yego's amazing journey on African Voices on CNN (401), Tuesday 15 August at 06:30 EAT.
Yego is a self-made Kenyan javelin thrower who turned to YouTube for training, and is now a world champion. Since beginning at school, Yego stood out from an early age in a country known more for track and field and long-distance running.
Despite his early success, Yego’s career has been impacted by the lack of resources available to him, as he explains to African Voices: “I remember in 2008 I won the national championships and qualified for world junior in Poland…Unfortunately last minute told I could not go because they did not have enough money. It was so frustrating because I had worked so hard.”
In a sport dominated by Europeans and with a lack of coaching available to him, Yego turned to the internet to try and improve his technique instead.
Yego explains: “I needed to go and see what these guys were doing. Not how to throw because I knew how to throw, but the kind of training they had. The kind of training they were doing in the gym was so important for me because I could easily compare the kind of technique they were using with mine.”
The YouTube-inspired training sessions quickly paid off as Yego became the first Kenyan to win a title in a field event at the All-Africa Games in 2011.
African Voices reports that shortly after this, Yego was given the opportunity to train in Finland alongside some of Europe’s top coaches. This experience allowed him to finish in twelfth place at London 2012, and raise his profile even further.
His finest moment to date came at the 2015 World Championships, where Yego threw a javelin over 92 metres, becoming the first Kenyan to win a World Championships gold medal in a field event.
Yego explains his experience of the championships to African Voices: “When I saw the javelin fly, I knew this one is big… I knew nobody will beat this mark because it was that big.”
Yego tells African Voices how he hopes his achievements can help other Kenyan track and field athletes in the future: “If we have the support from our federation, we need to have massive support, because the long-distance running, the middle and the long-distance running, in Kenya they've done so well… You need to invest in the field events we have, because we have potentials and the space.”
Whilst the Kenya Sports Federation have allocated Yego a coach, he reveals how he still relies on YouTube and his family for motivation ahead of competitions.
Remember to catch Yego's story on African Voices on CNN (401), Tuesday 15 August at 06:30.