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Get to Know Julius Yego, Kenya's Self-Taught Olympic Javelin-Thrower Dubbed ‘The Youtube Man’

Despite not having a coach or training facilities, Yego is competing for gold in men’s javelin throwing on August 17 in Rio.

Who knew you could learn how to become an Olympian by watching Youtube videos?


That’s the hack Kenyan Olympic javelin-throwing-phenom Julian Yego of Kenya’s Cheptonon village used to excel at the sport that entails throwing a spear long-distance. It has earned him the nickname, “The Youtube Man” throughout Kenya. In 2015, Yego took home a gold medal at the world championships after launching a javelin 92 meters— that’s an impressive 301 feet. He’s also the first Kenyan to qualify for a field event at the Olympics, and a two-time All African Games champion. In 2012 at the latter sporting event, Yego catapulted a javelin 81.81 meters (265 feet), making history as the first Kenyan and African to have ever achieved such a feat.

However, behind every success story is a set of obstacles that has to be overcome. He first discovered javelin-throwing, which he says flows in his blood, at the village primary school located five miles from his home. Yego started competing there, forming makeshift javelins from branches removed from nearby trees.

Yego’s father was less than pleased when he learned his son had picked up the sport. “He wanted me to pursue education,” the Olympian says in the autobiographical video below. “I used to not tell him that I’m going for competition.”

In addition to his father’s disapproval that he was placing his javelin career over his education, Yego didn’t have a coach in Kenya or a javelin facility where he could train. Determined to continue his training in the track and field event, the future-Olympian turned to Youtube. “I would go to the cyber [cafe], look at the great javelin throwers, see what they do in their normal

in their normal training, and I would come and practice the following day.”

And the 27-year-old Kenyan’s road to Rio has been made rocky as he learned recently that his coach won’t be present until the day before he competes for gold in men’s javelin throw on August 17. A week ago, Yego alleged he’s a victim of sabotage on Facebook.

Yego will have to lean on his humble beginnings to achieve his Olympic dreams, but they're well within his grasp.

Watch the incredible story of “The Youtube Man” below:

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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