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Long Road to Glory: Kenya’s Sole Athlete Fights All Odds To Earn an Olympic Medal

Julius Yego might not have made it to the Rio 2016 Olympics games if his fellow Kenyan athletes had not vigorously protested the Kenyan’s near absence after it was discovered that the World javelin champion had no ticket on arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Formal discussions between National Olympics Committee of Kenya officials and Kenya Airways eventually allowed Yego to fulfill his dream of participating at the Olympic games.

But the Kenyan famously referred to as ‘Mr. YouTube man’, suffered a setback injury that forced him out of the Rio final, despite setting up a lead of 88.24 meters. The YouTube self-taught javelin phenomenon led within three throws of the men’s final but fell short with an injury in his third to last throw, which forced the Kenyan in tears off the field in a wheelchair.


Yego wheeled away for treatment in tears after succumbing to injury at the Rio men’s javelin final. Image: Yego/Facebook

Germany’s Thomas Röhler overhauled Yego’s hopes of winning gold at the Olympics with a 90.30 meters throw, but the Kenyan managed to settle in a second place for a silver medal.

“When I made the second throw I felt something funny on my knee. My groin was right. When I attempted to throw the third throw that’s when I felt it,” Yego lamented about his injury.

Despite missing out on gold in Rio, Yego is the first Kenyan field athlete to qualify and win a medal at the Olympics field event adding to his historic feat in 2012 in London, as the first African to lead with 81.81 meters.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Despite the fact that I didn’t finish the competition as I pulled my groin, the main thing is to be on the podium. I really felt very good during the warm up; maybe I could have thrown further than 88m,”[/perfectpullquote]

said the 27-year-old Kenyan.

The two-time All African Games Champion adds to his prolific successes like the 2014 Commonwealth Javelin title in Glasgow, Scotland and a gold medal win at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, where he set a new African record throw of 92.72 meters.

Yego who did not conform to the common practices applied by most javelin athletes, instead sought out the Internet to teach himself the ways of professional javelin throwers.

In Kenya, Javelin is greatly outnumbered by track and distance runners have gained the country huge popularity and many international accolades.

Yego’s remarkable journey to international recognition is one of individual hard work, determination, and resourcefulness.

“I have passion for javelin throw. I think somewhere in my blood is written javelin,” Yego told CNN.

With no coach and for the most part depending on YouTube videos to polish up on his skill, the Kenyan’s achievements and talents became well known to the IAAF. They later invited him on scholarship to train at the IAAF-accredited center in Kuortane in Finland – the famous spiritual home of the javelin, where he met his first coach Petteri Piironen, who impacted on his career to date.

“My technique wasn’t great,” Yego said. “YouTube can only take you so far. Petteri set me a training regime that I still use today.”

Yego is the third all-time longest javelin thrower with a 92.72-meter throw in Beij


Featured Photo: Julius Yego throws the javelin for his silver medal win at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Getty Images

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