Monday, May 22, 2017

Dusk on America

Sunset in Eugene.

He exits the hotel just before me.

He starts to walk across a vast, darkening parking lot.

He is Kenyan.

He is massive.

He is World Champion, as new to the scene as a world champion can be.

He has not competed in Eugene before, or the US.

I wonder which America he knows.

I slow my pace; my odd tempo attracts his attention.

I slow even more; he turns and looks again.

He proceeds towards the shopping center.

I wait several minutes, then drive in his direction, but I’ve lost him.

I cannot rest.

I return to the hotel and wait in the lobby, under the guise of writing.

At last he returns.

He removes his hoodie.

He glances at me; we begin to talk.

I read a story I wrote about him the day he became World Champion.

He is delighted.

As he turns to go to his room we exchange gentle, awkward waves.

I can leave.

He is safe.

For now

-Mark Cullen

My encounter with Kenya's javelin World Champion and Olympic silver medalist Julius Yego took place at Eugene's Valley River Inn on May 28, 2016, on the evening following that day's Prefontaine Classic, where he finished second in the javelin in his US/Eugene debut.

Here is the story I was privileged to read to him:


  1. A suicide. I liked him. He visited our troops all over the world. He left a family. And it's tragic. And its all over the news. Then we have the police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, on the news everywhere.