Kenya: Going for Gold?09/09/2015
On August 26, 2015, 26-year-old Kenyan athlete Julius Yego threw his javelin 92.72 meters – the third longest throw ever; commentators exclaimed, calling the throw “colossal.” Yego, relatively unknown until this year’s IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing, trained himself using YouTube videos, and later honed his skills with a Finnish trainer. Julius Yego is one of many East African talents who have risen to the top against all odds, and without resources or support.
Despite the fact that Kenya ranked highest in the medal table at the 2015 IAAF championships, local athletes face uphill challenges, both in securing the opportunity to compete, and in capitalizing on their successes once the competitions are over.
Following the 2012 London Olympics, an article in The Guardian newspaper cited sports agents’ predictions, saying four British gold medalists stood to become millionaires “by signing enhanced endorsement deals and banking higher appearance fees.” As things stand, this is unfathomable for Kenyan athletes – who often slip back into country unnoticed, and resume training.
While there have been beacons of commercial success in Kenyan athletics: former long distance runner Paul Tergat, went on to become an “Ambassador Against Hunger” for the UN World Food Program, and David Rudisha, a current Olympic champion and World Record holder, is the Proctor & Gamble brand ambassador for Safeguard Antibacterial soap; they could be viewed as exceptions to the rule.
Yego’s case, amongst countless others, demonstrates the vast talent management gap in Kenya, and in the region. African Speakers & Artists Ltd., is a champion of East African Talent, and we believe that there are countless opportunities for brands and exceptional talents across the region to work together. The first step in doing so however, is addressing the vacuum, and imagining a future full of Julius Yego’s who had the support structure to facilitate their greatness.Read more Read less