Julius Yego – “Mr. YouTube Man”
Julius Yego grew up poor in rural Kenya. He came from a family of farmers, a home without electricity and had to walk six miles to school. Somehow, in a country known for distance runners, Julius fell in love with the javelin. He had no money for one so he made ‘stick javelins’ and threw every day growing up. “My dad did not want me throwing the javelin. He was worried it would hinder my studies. I used to not tell him when I was going to competitions.”
“Nowhere in Kenya was there javelin training. I didn’t have a coach. I was training alone, I saw it as life was going against me. It was the lowest point in my life.”
“But I didn’t give up. First time I was on YouTube is 2009, when I was now getting serious about training and I didn't have a coach," he explained. "Nobody was there for me to see if I was doing well or not, so I went to the cyber cafe. I would see what the champion throwers would do in their normal training. I would go practice it the next day. Eventually, I got teammates to train with me but we still did not have a coach.”
Yego’s cybercafé training started paying off in a big way. At the 2011 All-Africa Games, Yego became the first Kenyan to win a title in a field event. When journalists wanted to interview Yego's coach, the secret of his success was revealed.
"They wanted to interview my coach to know what I did before the competitions, the championships. But I told them seriously I didn't have a coach. I didn't go with a coach," he said. "Then they asked me, 'Who is your coach,' and then I told them, 'YouTube.'"
By 2015 Yego, with the help of coaching finally, became the first Kenyan to ever win a World Championship in a field event. He was a silver medalist at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. “My son likes javelin, I promise he won’t go without a coach,” Yego said.
If a poor kid in Kenya who grew up without electricity can go to a small cybercafé, watch free videos on YouTube and learn how to become a world-class javelin-thrower, what is our excuse? If you’re a running back coach, get on YouTube and see what’s out there. Maybe there is one or two things you can learn to help your players. If you are a teacher the same is true.
What COULD YOU BE LEARNING RIGHT NOW with this extra time?