Mr YouTube man: the story behind Kenya’s gold-medal-winning javelin thrower

Kenyan javelin thrower Julius Yego recently won a gold medal at the IAAF World Athletics Championships event in Beijing with a mammoth throw of 92.72m. Having already won gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, the All Africa Games and African Championships, this recent victory confirmed Yego’s talent in a full field of international talent. 

What makes Yego’s achievements so fascinating is that he taught himself the skill by watching YouTube videos. And while Yego might not have millions of fans or a multinational brand, his story was by far one of the most memorable revealed at the recent Brandcast event in Sydney.

The clip played at the Qantas Arena told the story of a young boy who started javelin by throwing sticks as far as he could. It didn’t take long for him to break the Kenyan junior record, but he was still unable to find a full-time coach. As it turns out, javelin coaches are rare in Kenya. 

However, he persevered, watching YouTube videos, learning about technique and strength training, and he progressed quickly. His use of the video platform led to him earning the moniker Mr YouTube in his village. Of course, Yego eventually found a coach, who no doubt played a role in pushing him a little further, but his story remains a fantastic underdog tale. 

‘How to’ videos have been a staple of YouTube for some time, and countless brands and individuals share tips and tricks on how to do various things. And while this generally enables the average bloke to accomplish tricky DIY projects, it’s great to see the platform also playing a role in providing opportunities to those who don’t necessarily have them.     


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