|Javelin Throw||92.72||Beijing (National Stadium)||26 AUG 2015|
|2015||92.72||Beijing (National Stadium)||26 AUG|
|2014||84.72||Marrakech (Le Grande Stade)||14 AUG|
|2013||85.40||Moskva (Luzhniki)||17 AUG|
|2012||81.81||London (Olympic Stadium)||08 AUG|
|15th IAAF World Championships||1||92.72||Beijing (National Stadium)||26 AUG 2015|
|2nd IAAF Continental Cup 2014||4||83.06||Marrakech (Le Grande Stade)||14 SEP 2014|
|14th IAAF World Championships||4||85.40||Moskva (Luzhniki)||17 AUG 2013|
|The XXX Olympic Games||12||77.15||London (Olympic Stadium)||11 AUG 2012|
Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.
Updated August 9, 2013
Julius YEGO, Kenya (Javelin)
Born: 4 January, 1989, Soba River Location, Tinderet Division, Nandi South County
Team: Kenya Police
Family: Fourth born in a family of seven, elder brother Henry Kiprono (born 1985) is also a Javelin athlete based at the Kapsabet Camp.
Yego and history have become synonymous since he won his country a maiden men’s Javelin gold medal at the All Africa Games in Maputo in 2011 to become the only acclaimed Kenyan star in athletics outside the distance running world beaters the nation is more famed for.
His progression from a downcast teenage field athlete, who shed bitter tears when Athletics Kenya declined to enter him for the 2008 World Junior Championships despite his 72.41m throw qualifying him for the competition, to leading his nation’s squad for the 14th IAAF World Championships in Moscow in 2013 as overall captain has been nothing short of phenomenal.
Known widely as the ‘You Tube Man’, Yego circumvented the lack of proper coaches in his chosen sport by spending hours at cyber cafes in Nairobi and Eldoret to improve his technique by watching his idols, led by World record holder, Jan Zelezny, on the video sharing website, forcing the same authorities who crushed his World Junior dream to parade him as a success in the country’s efforts to expand its medal catchment in the sport.
Starting in Maputo, Yego has gone ahead to break the national record no less than five times, his latest best mark, 82.09m, being set last month (13 July) at the Trials for Moscow, where once again he eclipsed the more renowned distance running stars with the performance of the event.
Last year, he made history as the first African Javelin thrower to qualify for the Olympics final in London.
In Moscow, Yego’s expanding list of landmarks continues as he became the first ever field captain of the Kenyan squad, besides being the pioneering exponent of his event to represent his nation at the biennial global showpiece.
His rise to fame has seen Orange, a French-based integrated communication service provider in Kenya, use him as a face of their business, making him the only local athlete (as at August 2013) to enjoy such status, underlining the impact of his progress.
“Back home, everybody is so happy. When I’m walking to my Nairobi house in Roy Sambu, everybody is saying, ‘Hi Yego!’ And this means I have to be disciplined so that I can have more people following my example,” he said of his newfound status.
Having attended Soba River Primary and Kapsabet Boys’ Secondary schools for his primary and secondary education, completed in 2006, he came to the attention of the Kenya Police head coach, Nicholas Kilisio, who went on to influence the recruitment of the aspiring field athlete to the force.
Yego was recruited by the Police after finishing third at the 2007 national championships with a throw of 61.80m. “We saw the talent in him and decided to take him. He had a small frame but we have bulked him up,” Police head coach, Kilisio said of Yego.
He graduated as a constable from Kenya Police College in March 2008 and was subsequently posted to the CID Headquarters in the outskirts of Nairobi to begin service.
Inspired by the legendary record holder, Zelezny, Yego knew from the start that he was destined to excel in Javelin. “It is my talent and I had interest in Javelin since I was in Standard Six (sixth year of primary school),” he asserted.
Having been included late in the Kenyan team for the 2008 World Juniors in Poland, he was then left crestfallen when without due explanation; his name was expunged from the final travelling squad, leaving the youngster gutted after he dethroned the then national titleholder, Sammy Keskeny which led AK to consider him for Bydgoszcz.
It capped a torrid year for him since earlier in April; Yego had missed out on a chance to compete at the African Athletics Championships in Addis Ababa after finishing second to Keskeny with a best throw of 67.42m against 68.75 at the event’s Trials.
“I could have beaten him and travelled (Kenya carried only one Javelin athlete) but I made a slight mistake. I threw further than him but the attempt was disqualified after I touched the line,” Yego recalled.
Having won successive domestic titles in 2009 and 2010, Yego won his first medal for his nation at the Nairobi 2010 Africa Athletics Championships with a best effort of 74.51m that fuelled his desire to achieve more. This led him to turn to You Tube to study the techniques of Zelezny and his other favourite throwers, double Olympic champion (2004 and 2008), Andreas Thorkildsen and Osaka Worlds gold medallist, Tero Pitkämäki.
“I realised that the coaching here would never improve me and that is why I turned to YouTube to watch champion Javelin throwers such as record holder Zelezny, Thorkildsen and Pitkämäki.”
His efforts paid off when he won the top medal at the Maputo All Africa Games last year in his first of five national records, 78.34m, becoming an instant sensation when his YouTube story went viral home and abroad.
With his billing as a prospect for the London Olympics assured in addition to the buzz his triumph created, AK, facilitated Yego to travel to Finland in late 2011 and early 2012 to improve on his technique.
In 2012, he adjusted the NR thrice with 79.95m (April), 81.12m (July) and 81.81m (August) with the latter coming at the heats at London Olympics where a ninth finish saw him become the first African to contest the final at the event. Also in July before he travelled to London, Yego’s 76.68m best effort was enough to make him the first Kenyan to strike African Championships gold in Javelin at the competition held in Porto Novo, Benin.
“Being an African champion is a great honour. When I was in the stadium everyone was looking at me and exclaiming, ‘Oh! Look! A Kenyan is winning the Javelin’. Looking at South African and Egyptian athletes who have better facilities, winning filled me with so much pride,” he told of his continental glory.
At the London Olympics final, he could only finish 12th after injuring his knee during warm-up but nonetheless returned home a hero from his ground breaking achievement at an event Kenya had previously failed to ignite.
“It was fantastic; I was just feeling proud to have made the finals. It was my dream to be at the finals since the start of this year and it really worked as I had planned and I’m happy about my performance.
“I remember before I did my last throw (in qualification), the head coach of Finland called me and told me, ‘Just remember what we said before you went to the stadium, just make 80m and that will be enough for you to make the final’,” Yego summed his London experience.
The shortest Javelin thrower at the Olympics final added: “It was a strange final and I don’t know what happened. For me, I twisted my knee before I entered the stadium and I had to strap it. The guy who won is someone I beat in qualification and he won the World Juniors in Barcelona.
“In competition, you have to accept the outcome and it was his day. He hit the technique and everybody was missing it. The world leader (Vítězslav Veselý, Czech Republic, who had thrown 88.34m in qualifying and 88.11 a month earlier) managed 83m and for most it was a disaster on the day.”
After the Olympics, Yego made his Diamond League (DL) debut in the tail end of the season at the Zürich final (78.74m/fifth)
In 2013, Yego increased his international experience, first with a three-meet tour in far-East Asia which included his second DL outing in Shanghai (78.23m) in May, then recorded two marks over 80m in Europe in June (80.43m in Prague and 81.79 in Turku).
Back on home soil for the National Championships on 21 June, his effect on his compatriots keen to follow in his footsteps was felt when three other athletes joined him in posting efforts that sailed above 70 metres.
This was the first time this had ever happened in the country’s history as 18-year old Alex Kiprotich (72.73 metres) and Fred Kogo (71.40 metres) recorded career bests while 2008 Africa bronze winner, Sammy Keskeny (70.25m) the second mark of his career.
A few weeks later at the Trials for the Moscow Worlds, Yego once again smashed his national record and adjusted it to 82.09m at the high elevation of Nairobi.
“I’m so happy since I’m sure I have inspired the upcoming generation here at home. I know next year, we shall have many guys qualifying in other disciplines such as Long jump and Hammer since they now know we can have success in the field.”
He was, by popular vote by his teammates, appointed the captain of the Moscow bound team to replace World record holder in 800m, David Rudisha, who pulled out of the Worlds through injury.
“It’s an honour and pleasure to be the captain of the athletics team. I have to thank my fellow athletes who proposed me and everybody accepted. This is the first time we have a field athlete as a captain and I’m honoured for that.”
His success story has seen him become a favourite interview subject, with US cable news giant, CNN, among those who sent crews to Kenya to interview the YouTube Man.
“We heard Yego teaching himself on You Tube to throw the javelin and as a result of his own achievement, he became the first Kenyan to compete in javelin at the Olympics and we thought it was such an extraordinary story of individual determination and we decided to film it,” CNN Francesca Church said during the filming of his documentary in Nairobi in January this year.
“My vision is to be at the podium at the World Championships or just to be next to the medals. I was 12th at the Olympics, where it did not go well, but just like everybody else, winning a medal remains my target for Russia,” he said ahead of his maiden Worlds.
Javelin: 82.09 (2013)
2008- 72.18A; 2009-74.00; 2010-75.44; 2011-78.34; 2012-81.81; 2013-82.09
African Championships, Nairobi
Commonwealth Games, Delhi
All Africa Games, Maputo
African Championships, Porto Novo
Olympics Games, London