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Javelin star Yego believes Tokyo 2021 could be his last opportunity to win gold

By Kiprono Ericson
Friday, August 28th, 2020 00:00 | 3 mins read
Julius Yego follows his throw during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Photo/PD/SPORTPICHA

Former world javelin champion and Olympic silver medallist Julius Yego has set his sights on a gold medal at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics next year believing it could be his last opportunity to top the podium.

Yego will be 32 next year and 35 in 2024 when Paris will host the Games, so Tokyo 2021 will likely be the last Summer Games where he is able to compete at a high level.

“I really want to win an Olympic gold medal, which is the only medal missing in my trophy cabinet,” Yego told People Sport.

He added: “To me, I take the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 very seriously. This will probably be the last Games in which I will be able to compete at the highest level.

Age is a major factor in this sport and I will be 35 by the time the next Olympics gets underway.”

The Games that could have taken place this month were shelved due to the the coronavirus pandemic, with the Opening Ceremony now set for July 23 next year.

Since winning a bronze medal at the 2010 African Championships in Nairobi, Yego has been steadily improving.

He won gold medals at the African Championships (2012, 2014 and 2018), African Games (2011), and one apiece at the Commonwealth Games and World Championships in 2015 where he threw his personal best of 92.72 metres.

Africa javelin champion Julius Yego during the 2017 World Championships in London. Photo/PD/FILE

At the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Yego stood out as the man to beat, before he settled for a silver medal after one throw because of an ankle injury.“I had done good training and I was in top form by March.

I was in the right frame of mind to throw up to 85m by then, but all the effort went to waste because all competitions were halted,” Yego said.

He, like other competitors, have nearly a full year to train for the Olympic Games.

Yego is unhappy with the lack of world-class training facilities not inly in North Rift region but Kenya as a whole and he has been training in limited space at his home in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County.

Currently he stays in shape by going for an early morning run before returning home and practicing to throw the javelin over a short distance, a thing he is not comfortable with.

“I have been forced to retreat to my small compound because of lack of proper training facilities,” he said.

Yego said Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani in Nairobi was the best training ground before the pandemic.

Last month he was appointed to head Africa at The Athletics Association, an independent organisation established for athletes.

He was appointed alongside Marie Josee Ta Lou from Côte d’Ivoire among other representatives from different countries worldwide.

Formed in response to the calls from athletes worldwide for independent representation, the objective of the Athletics Association is to provide Track and Field athletes with a meaningful voice to fight for stronger athletes’ rights.

The association aims to engage in positive dialogue with the sport’s governing body, World Athletics, and their own athletes’ commission but will hold World Athletics to account when necessary and challenge them if they are not acting in the best interest of athletes.

Kiprono Ericson