Kenyans on Monday saluted Commonwealth Games javelin champion Julius Yego for his throw in the Birmingham Grand Prix of 91.39 metres on Sunday, which set an African record, Diamond League record and the best throw in the world since 2006.
His throw, however, had some drama. As Yego responded to world champion Vitezslav Vesely’s sixth round effort of 88.18 meters by launching the javelin out to 91.39, many were dejected after it was ruled out, reports Xinhua.
“It was bad that it was not accepted,” Kenya athletics head coach David Letting said.
However, after a protest the throw was made official. It is now an African record, Diamond League record and the best throw since 2006.
“When it was accepted, I was very happy for him,” said Letting. “Yego will go far. His work is motivating many people. Now some children want to become javelin throwers. I feel he is peaking steadily and a gold medal in Beijing is now a possibility.”
Czech athlete Vesely thought he had wrapped it up when he made a season’s best of 88.18m. However, Yego stepped on to the runway and turned the tables.
He sent his javelin high in the air and it landed well beyond Vesely’s mark, but was initially ruled to have fallen outside the sector.
It was up for debate, though, as the sector lines hadn’t been extended beyond 87 metres. The throw was measured anyway — 91.39 metres for the record — but after close examination the judges said it was still outside the sector.
Twenty minutes after the meeting ended, with the stands now completely empty, the officials reversed their decision and awarded Yego the victory with his 91.39 metres throw.
“Anything by a Kenyan is possible so long as you remain focused and determined to go the extra mile,” said coach Steven Mwaniki.
Athletics Kenya vice president David Okeyo said it was the best performance in the meeting and for Kenyans.
“It was fantastic. I feel proud for being a Kenyan,” he said. “Yego is redefining the rules of javelin and he is an athlete who competes clean and fairly. If he keeps this on, a world record will be in the offing soon.”