Track & Field

The Country Conundrum: Yego holds his ground as Qatar comes knocking

Reports circulated in recent days that Julius Yego, the world javelin champion, had turned down an incredible offer of approx €8.5 million to switch to Qatar. He rubbished these claims saying “Why would I do that? Money can’t take me anywhere. Who will recognize me in Qatar? How many Kenyans have gone to Qatar and come back here crying? Most have since returned to the country and are destitute.”

The 26-year-old would have had to sit out three years of competitions in order to compete for Qatar.

Julius Yego in action at the 2012 Olympics. Image: PhotoRun

Julius Yego in action at the 2012 Olympics. Image: PhotoRun

Yego is not the first athlete to be linked with Qatar and many athletes have transferred their allegiance due to different reasons. Some, such as Khalid Khannouchi, Mohammed Mourhit and Wilson Kipketer have have married into their new nations. Some like Zola Budd and Sydney Maree moved from South Africa for political reasons. Bernard Lagat and Lornah Kiplagat, meanwhile, became naturalised citizens of the US and Netherlands respectively.

In recent years a rather more disturbing trend has started to develop where athletes have started to move for money to countries like Qatar, Bahrain and Turkey.

Yusuf Saad Kamel won gold for Bahrain in the men’s 1500m in Berlin World Championships in 2009. Saif Saaeed Shaheen used to be known as Stephen Cherono before he received a reported $1 million to run for Qatar. They got their money’s worth when he broke the world record and won the World Championship steeplechase in 2003.

Other athletes have the combined the controversy of accepting money to change countries with the moral bankruptcy of performance-enhancing drugs. Step forward Femi Ogunode of Qatar, Elvan Abeylegesse of Turkey and Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain.

Kudos to Julius Yego for standing his ground. There is a relatively meagre amount of money in athletics and €8.5 million, if the figure is accurate, could have set him up for life.

How refreshing it is to see a man interested in representing his country instead of selling his soul.

Full Story here

Full list of athletes who transferred Nations here

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Ronan Duggan

Ronan Duggan

Ronan Duggan is an athlete, coach, athletics fan and, most importantly, was once named Bandon AFC's under-12 Player of the Year. He was once a promising athlete but is now a promising coach, teacher and part-time athletics writer/broadcaster. While an 800m runner himself, Ronan has coached everything from pole vault to 10km with varying levels of bluffing. He has regularly been threatening to do something for years but is yet to deliver. He is regarded as our expert on the American running scene, though has yet, to prove his knowledge in this realm.

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