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Paris Olympics: Shame for Team Kenya as Julius Yego appeals for funds

Julius Yego, one of Kenya’s prolific sportsmen, has been reduced to begging for financial assistance to participate in the Paris Olympics despite placing the country on the world map in several international sporting events including the Olympics.

On April 10, 2024, he uploaded a ‘campaign’ statement online, calling on supporters to fund his trip to France for his fourth Olympic Games appearance.

“I have struggled to finance my activities for the past seven years. My struggles started in 2017 when my long-time partner, Mizuno exited track and field; and my then-manager couldn’t carry on, due to health matters. I have been sponsoring myself since but uncertainties occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic and a series of injuries made it tough,” said Yego in part.

He now intends on participating in the Paris Olympics and says there are two paths to follow- via the world rankings or automatic qualifications if he throws the javelin to 85.50m.

His personal best stands at 92.72m which he threw at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, China, and recently threw 81.74m at the African Games in Accra, Ghana in March 2024.

“My next attempt is at the Kip Keino Classic at Moi Stadium, Kasarani, on April 20. If not, there are the Diamond League meetings with Doha (May 10) top of my list. This demands financial muscle to cater for equipment, travel and accommodation. I invite individuals who share the determination, courage and never-say-die attitude of the Julius Yego brand to join me on this Road To Paris campaign.

My upcoming events will attract global viewership (stadium audience and TV) which augurs well with most brands. I am open to branding of goods and services,” added Yego.

Yego is a self-taught javelin thrower who learnt the skill via YouTube. He emerged as a breakout star and went on to win several accolades including the 2011 and 2019 African Games in Maputo and Rabat respectively, the 2015 World Championships in Beijing and a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

He is also a four-time African Champion following his victories in Porto Novo, Marrakech, Asaba and Port Louis. Additionally, he is a multiple national champion including being a bronze medalist in Nairobi in 2010.

He is currently continuing with his training in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County.

His public financial support appeal was met with encouragement from a section of Kenyans who sympathised with his plight. Nairobi News sampled some of their reactions below:

“Where is the champion’s Paybill number?” asked Kips Oscar,

“Your determination and hard work will earn you a gold medal. I wish you all the best and God’s blessings,” added Kirwa Karonei.

“All the best Mr YouTube. Wow, I didn’t know this. You got this bro. It’s time for Kenyans to all support this legend loud and proud and chip in some support in the journey to Paris. I will also be doing so,” said Jordan Guenther.

The Ministry of  Youth Affairs, Sports and the Arts under Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba is mandated by law to finance all activities of all sportsmen and women representing Kenya in international meets.

Yego’s financial appeal suggests a disconnect from the government.

It is believed the government is set to release tens of millions to the National Olympic Committee of Kenya for Team Kenya’s participation and preparations for the Olympics.

It remains to be seen if Yego will be funded as he is the second sports personality, after Ms Alexandra Ndolo, a fencer, to intimate minimal to no government financial support for their pursuits in representing Kenya aboard.

So far, the men’s sevens rugby team and women’s volleyball have already qualified for the Paris Olympics set to run from July 26, 2024, to August 11, 2024.