Track is my field: Mark Cullen's international track and field website featuring storytelling, commentary, and predictions and event analyses for the Olympics and World Championships. I'll be writing from the 2018 European Championships in Berlin in August. I'm active on Facebook and Twitter: @trackerati.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Watching History

The podium in the men’s javelin looks quite different than it ever has before.

Once the province of Northern and Central European countries, tonight’s podium looks like this:

Gold              Kenya               Julius Yego
Silver             Egypt                Ihab Abdelrahman El Sayed
Bronze           Finland             Tero Pitkamaki

Until tonight, the IAAF World Championships men’s javelin final had been held 14 times.

42 medals had been awarded – and there were no ties.

Of these 42 medals, 37 were won by European countries, 3 by North America, 1 by Asia, and 1 by Africa.

Tonight, two of the three - gold and silver - were won by Africa.

It is a truism in track and field that the simpler the event the more diverse the medal winners. Put on a pair of race walking shoes and the medalists come from six continents. Put on a pair of running shoes and socioeconomic barriers to World and Olympic success begin to fall away.

But the more highly technical the equipment required for an event, the more likely the medalists are to come from an increasingly narrow geographic and socioeconomic range.

The smaller world we live in is one of the reasons access to the technical events is broadening. Tonight’s winner, Julius Yego, is well known in Kenya as “The YouTube Man.” He is a self-taught javelin thrower who says in a video he produced, “My coach is me, and my YouTube videos.”

At the end of the most famous of his self-produced videos, Yego says, “As the world progresses, everything changes.”

It does, indeed.

The medal ceremony for the men’s javelin will be held Thursday evening, August 27, at 18:35.

Take a moment to watch it.

You’ll be watching history.





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