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African champ Yego hangs on to Olympic dreams

ATHLETICS By Xinhua | April 30th 2020
Julius Yego training at Kasarani ahead of World Athletics championship to be held in Doha, Qatar. Sept 25, 2019. [Jonah Onyango, Standar]

Former world champion knows he’ll have a mountain to climb when competition is restored.

Africa javelin champion Julius Yego has not given up the dream to reclaim the World Championship title or ascend to the top and clinch the Olympic gold in Tokyo Games.

Speaking in Nairobi, Yego rued his loss of form to injuries, which threatened to end his career prematurely. 

Ever since he damaged his groin at the Rio Olympics, which limited him to only one throw that gifted him a silver medal, Yego has battled to return to top form.

However, it has not been easy. It has only been last year that he was able to compete without any pain in his groin or on the ankle. He was looking forward to a good season in 2020 before coronavirus struck.

Now for over a month, Yego has been unable to throw the javelin as he is holed up at home following government’s directive restricting movement.

But even that has not tamed his dream as he targets to clinch two more titles, at the rescheduled Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games and the 2022 World Championships in Eugene, Oregon in the United States, before retiring from the sport. 

“Rio Games remains one of those competitions I will never forget. I was so happy despite the fact that I was injured after the first throw and could only settle for silver,” said Yego.

Yego knows he will have a mountain to climb when the competition is restored and COVID-19 defeated.

But it is a challenge he relishes to take and hopes to dare his rivals including Olympic champion Thomas Rohler to a contest in Tokyo.

“Postponement of the Olympics will buy me more time to train and prepare. I want to return to action. I want to continue pushing my body, challenge my mind and hope that I can beat the mark which I threw in Beijing back in 2015,” he said.

There are signs Yego is returning to his best. For long, it was hard for him to throw past the 77-meter mark. 

But he has shown the intend hurling the javelin to 87.73 marks at the Africa Games.

With more focus, he can bridge the five-meter gap and return to the top of the world. 

“I want that to be at the Olympics. If I can beat my own personal best, let it be at a big championship. I have no more than five years to compete as an elite athlete because my age is advancing,” added Yego.

The Kenyan, who emerged on the global scene to dominate the javelin world having self-taught himself from YouTube, believes the restricted movement in Kenya, and the world at large, will empower athletes to refocus and harness their inner strength to emerge stronger whenever competition is allowed. 

“Today I have coaches helping me. I have been exposed to the best training facilities in the world, in Finland and South Africa and I want to do the best to sign off with a win,” Yego said.t

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