BEIJING (Reuters) - Julius Yego continued Kenya’s dominance of the world athletics championships by winning his country’s fifth gold medal with a monster 92.72 meters throw in a dramatic men’s javelin final.
It is the first time that Kenya, a nation noted for its distance-running prowess, has won a world title in a field event, and Yego’s victory comes a day after Nicholas Bett won the 400m hurdles title, the shortest distance over which any Kenyan has become a world champion.
In an event which has long been a European stranglehold, there was a one-two for Africa, as Egypt’s Ihab El Sayed took the silver medal with his 88.99m second-round effort.
Finland’s Tero Pitkamaki gave Europea some consolation by taking bronze with his 87.64m best effort. Thomas Rohler, of Germany placed fourth with 87.41, having led in the early stages.
”It’s really unbelievable,“ Yego, 26, said. ”I‘m happy. I’ve won a gold medal for Kenya.
”And it’s really nice for me because after (the June 7 Diamond League win in) Birmingham, I had a good competition there, but I had a serious injury and thought I won’t compete at the world championship. But I did and a really big throw.
“I have to go and watch my throw now, because I didn’t feel it, but it was almost perfect. So I’ll have to go and watch it, and see, and enjoy,” he said.
“Very few athletes have done what I have done. It is not easy.”
Yego is diminutive by the standards of international javelin throwers, standing only 5ft 8in (1.75m) tall.
Rejected as a runner by sports coaches as a schoolboy, he taught himself the javelin by watching videos on YouTube.
After the first two rounds in the Bird’s Nest Stadium, Yego, winner of Commonwealth Games gold last year, was trailing Rohler and El Sayed.
For the third round, Yego threw himself to the ground at the end of his run-up, and his spear hung in the stormy Beijing evening sky before landing eight cm short of the championship record, set in 2001 by the world record-holder, Jan Zelezny.
Yego’s throw is the longest anywhere since then and beats the Commonwealth record held by Briton Steve Backley since 1992.
firstname.lastname@example.org, editing by Mitch Phillips and Ken Ferris