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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