2008 Beijing Olympics Champion and two-time Chicago Marathon winner Samuel Wanjiru is dead. The 24-year-old former world half-marathon record holder committed suicide in the wee-hours of Monday morning after a domestic dispute that involved his wife Triza Njeri and another woman, ‘Martha’, who was suspected to be a prostitute. Wanjiru jumped from the top of his three-storey house in Nyahururu to not only cut his life short, but also a promising career.
Wanjiru, the first Kenyan to win a gold medal in the marathon Olympics, has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.
It was after winning the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October last year that his life started its downward sprint. First, in December last year, he was arrested for threatening to kill his wife and maid, assaulting his security guard and illegally possessing an AK47 rifle. He denied the charges and was released on bail. In early January this year, he survived a freak accident that saw his vehicle roll four times, an incident which forced him to withdraw from April’s Virgin London Marathon won by his compatriot Emmanuel Mutai.
He was the youngest runner to win four major marathons; the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 2009 Flora London Marathon, and Chicago Marathon in 2009 and 2010.
> Wanjiru was born on November 10, 1986 and started running at the age of 15
> He won the Fukuoka International Cross Country as a sixteen-year-old in 2003 then went on to win it in 2004 and 2005
> He holds the Junior world record in the 10,000m at 26:41:75 which he ran on 26 August 2005 at 18 years, 289 days held at the Memorial Van Damme in Brussels, Belgium. This record sits 13th in the all-time fastest 10k races.
> He won the Kenyan Most Promising Sportsman of the Year award in 2005
> Wanjiru made his marathon debut at Fukuoka Marathon on December 2, 2007, winning in a course record 2hours, 6minutes and 39seconds
> He broke the world half-marathon record at 18 years on September 11, 2005 on his way to winning the Rotterdam Half Marathon. His time of 59:16 minutes beat Paul Tergat's half-marathon record of 59:17 minutes
> He won the 2008 Beijing Olympics in an Olympic record time of 2:06:32; becoming the first Kenyan to win the Olympic gold in the marathon. This record smashed the previous one of 2:09:21 set by Portuguese Carlos Lopes in the 1984 Olympics held in Los Angeles, California, United States.
> He was named the 2008 Kenyan Sportsman of the Year
> In October 2009, Wanjiru won the Chicago Marathon in a time of 2:05:41, setting a new course record for the city
> During the same year, he won the London Marathon in another course record 2 hours 5 minutes 10 seconds.
> He successfully defended his Chicago Marathon in 2010 winning it in a time of 2:06:24
> He amassed 80 points, finishing top of the World Marathon Majors rankings for 2008-09 and earning a jackpot of US$500,000 (42million Kenya shillings). He defended this title in 2009-10.
> His agent, Italian Federico Rosa, also serves/d as agent to four-time Boston Marathon champion Robert ‘Mwafrika’ Cheruiyot, former national cross-country champion Pamela Chepchumba, 800m runners Alfred Kirwa Yego and Janeth Jepkosgei and 2009 Rotterdam Marathon champion Duncan Kibet
> Wanjiru's younger brother Simon Njoroge is also a long distance run.
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