The javelin thrower who won gold at the World Championships learned how to throw from YouTube videos

Kenyan javelin thrower Julius Yego won gold at the World Championships in Beijing on Wednesday with a new African record throw of 92.72 meters.

Yego’s win puts him in position to become the first Kenyan to win an Olympic gold medal in a field event, the Washington Post’s Matt Bonesteel points out.

Yego’s rise to fame is a bit more unconventional than the standard javelin medalist. In 2013, a year after qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics for the first time, Yego told CNN that he is self-taught and relied on YouTube videos to perfect his technique.

While Yego’s hometown in the Rift Valley has produced several Olympic sprinters, there’s a shortage of javelin specialists, so Yego had to learn on his own. He told CNN’s Paul Gittings:

“I do not have a coach, my motivation comes from within. Training without a coach is not an easy thing… I watched YouTube and it really paid off for me, to see the training techniques and skills they are using.”

Yego, specifically, found inspiration in Andreas Thorkildsen, a Norweigian javelin thrower who competed in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. Yego would watch videos of Thorkildsen throwing, taking notes on his technique and training methods.

In a 2013 video about Yego’s training habits, he says:

“There were no coaches to guide me. I was just alone in the field, training. My father wanted me to give up javelin. Everybody here in Kenya is a runner. I took that as a challenge to find another way to succeed. I started watching videos… I could see that training like these people could improve me.”

Yego’s record-setting throw literally flattened him as he released it:

His 92.72-meter throw places him third all-time for longest javelin throw.

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