I was glad to see Julius Yego in top form again at the just-concluded African Games in Rabat Morocco. Since the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro where Yego claimed a silver medal, he has battled injuries amid dismal performances.
However, his recent performance means he is hitting form at the right time. As Kenyans, we can count on him for glory at the World Championships later this month in Doha, Qatar. In Rabat, Yego won gold after covering 87.73 metres which was way ahead of second-placed Kenyan Alexander Kiprotich, who posted 77.50m.
The performance leaves no doubt that the man is back to his former self and we are about to see the Yego who won gold at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, where he covered 92.72m, his personal best to date. Earlier in 2014, he had won gold at the Commonwealth Games (83.87m) in Glasgow, and at the African Games in Marrakech, where he threw 84.72m. At the 2016 Olympic Games,Yego put up another fantastic show despite an injury, claiming a silver medal with a throw of 88.24m. Although he won gold at the Africa Championships in Asaba, Nigeria last year, his throw of 77.34m was not convincing, and left no doubt that he needed to do more.
However, his throw last week in Rabat has no doubt sent chills down his opponents’ spines and it remains to be seen how far he will go in Doha. The truth of the matter is that Yego seemed to know his form prior to African Games as he was quoted saying he was targeting a throw of 90m. He missed the target by a few metres in Rabat but I am sure he will be working on that in the next couple of days ahead of Doha.
I believe his target of 90m and beyond is achievable, and we may be looking at his ‘big return’ in Doha. I must mention that we posted good results in the field events as Mathew Sawe claimed silver in the high jump after clearing 2.15m behind South African Mpho Links, who cleared 2.20m.
Like Yego, I believe that with consistency and a little bit of a push, we are staring at another world-beater in Sawe. As a federation, we are trying our best to take field events to the next level but we really need the support of both the National Olympic Committee of Kenya and the government to actualise this. Some of the field athletes urgently need scholarships and proper facilities to realise their dream of competing at the top level. The truth of the matter is that we are blowing hot and cold in the mid and long-distance races and it’s about time we diversified our fields of competition.
Besides field events, we need to capitalise on the sprints.