Yego now has a coach: Petteri Piiroinen of Finland.
Kenya has produced 79 Olympic track and field medalists. Exactly zero have come from the field side of the equation.
But Julius Yego could end that streak next year in Rio, as he’ll now be considered one of the favorites in the javelin after winning gold in the event Wednesday at the world championships in Beijing.
His throw of 92.72 meters — an African record and the longest throw in 14 years — easily edged Ihab Abedelrahman El Sayed of Egypt and Tero Pitkamaki of Finland, who took silver and bronze, respectively.
The Guardian was breathless in its description of Yego’s winning heave on its live blog:
An astonishing throw by Julius Yego! He literally launches himself into his third attempt, straining every sinew as he releases the javelin and falling face down onto the floor. His nipples will have taken a hell of a scraping there. It’s ungainly. Unorthodox. And my goodness it’s worth it, the spear flying way past the 90-metre mark! It’s a throw of 92.72, a season’s best! And the Commonwealth record, previously held by Steve Backley.
As a field athlete from a country that produces mainly track stars, Yego has had to take an unorthodox path to the top. The 26-year-old does not have a coach, and learned how to throw by watching YouTube video of the sport’s greats.
“I do not have a coach, my motivation comes from within. Training without a coach is not an easy thing,” he told CNN in 2013, shortly after finishing a surprising 12th at the 2012 London Olympics as the first Kenyan to reach an Olympic final in a field event. “I watched YouTube and it really paid off for me, to see the training techniques and skills they are using.”
“My coach is me, and my YouTube videos,” he said in the above video.