Kenya’s javelin star disturbed by future of nation’s field events
Olympics javelin silver medallist Julius Yego fears for the future of Kenya’s field and sprints events at the global stage which says might remain bleak for long if the status quo remains.
The former World champion and Africa title holder believes that in addition to lack of facilities to help Kenyan athletes thrive in field events and sprints, most of them are unwilling to put in the work required to be able to compete globally.
“In the years that I have been at the top of my discipline, I have noted that there is a problem with commitment to the tough training regime for some of the field athletes and sprints.
Time and again I have invited some to my training sessions whether on the field or in the gym and they would attend one session or just half of it and give up arguing that it was too intense.
Even matters of punctuality for their own sessions are a problem. I have questioned some and there is a lot of complacency and a change of attitude is needed,” Yego told People Sport yesterday.
Arguably the most successful Kenyan field athlete with a World Championship gold and an Olympic silver, Yego says it takes patience, the right equipment, facilities and the right coaching to reach the level of other global athletes.
“We have the talent but the patience to grow in the sport is lacking. For instance, it took me three months in Finland, where I had to put in the hours, to be able to throw 80m.
After that I had to go for camps in South Africa before every competition just to stay at the top.
While at home, I had to maintain my form by working just as hard at home despite the challenges we face here,” Yego said, adding that the same story applies to other field athletes and sprinters who have experienced some level of success.
As he challenged his fellow athletes to adopt a champion’s mentality, he is worried that it could take some time for Kenya to leave another mark on the global stage in these events upon retirement of the current crop of athletes.
At the same time, Yego underscored the importance of the right coaching for these events as well the right facilities and equipment.
He argued that the said athletes should be allowed to be accompanied by their coaches to all competitions as only they understand their athletes.
“Imagine what field athletes and sprinters are going through right now in terms of training facilities. I, for one, have not been able to throw any javelin for more than two months.
I am currently in Eldoret and Kipchoge Stadium is in no condition to be used for any training. I have thought about using Moi University’s-Annex, School of Law but that poses a threat of injuries or damaging my javelins, which I had left in Nairobi and I have to find a way for them to be safely delivered to Eldoret, because the ground is not even,” he added.
That leaves the athlete nicknamed ‘The YouTube Man’ with little to do at home to stay lean, fit and work on his speed. With the current Covid-19 pandemic, he is also unable to access any gym to work on reactive exercises as he argues that such places my not be safe at this time.
Despite the challenges, Yego is determined to go for gold in next year’s Olympics which he says could be his last as an elite athlete.
“I cannot say that Tokyo will be my last Olympics to participate but it will be the last that I compete as a favourite. I am aging and I cannot expect to have the same energy in 2024 as I had at my peak.
I had set my eyes at clinching that gold in Tokyo and that remains my target. After that, I will then start working on the back-to-back World Championships,” said Yego.
Asked what he would want to venture into after retirements, the police officer ruled out getting into coaching for the upcoming throwers, instead committing to his employer.
“I do not see myself getting into coaching. I will do a bit of mentorship maybe but not coaching. Javelin requires athletes who are fast learners because there is a lot to be done in every session.
I do not have the patience to be a coach. I will instead dedicate my time to my employer.
They have been very patient with me over the years and have given me the chance to grow my talent and represent the country so they deserve my time in retirement,” Yego explained.