Monday, January 12, 2015


by Alex P. Vidal
First, Sammy Wanjiru was charged with threatening to kill his wife and with illegal possession of an AK-47 assault rifle several months ago.

On May 15, 2012 the 28 year old Beijing Olympic marathon champion, was found dead in his home with internal injuries.

Probers in Nyathururu, Kenya where his body was discovered reported that Wanjiru died from a fall after jumping from a balcony in a possible suicide.

Nyahururu is a town in Ritt Valley, about 150 kilometers or 93 miles north-west of the capital Nairobi. Wanjiru appeared to have suffered internal injuries after the fall and was confirmed dead by doctors at a nearby hospital after attempts to revive him failed.

Police said Wanjiru’s wife, Iriza Njeri, had come home to find him in bed with another woman. She locked the couple in the bedroom and ran outside. Wanjiru then reportedly leapt from the balcony.

Police are unsure if Wanjiru actually intended suicide or jumped out of rage, and are investigating the set of circumstances involving Njeri and his female companion that led to his death.

But recent reports said investigators were still trying to determine why Wanjiru, had jumped as initially reported. They could not yet officially declare if his death was suicide or accidental. They are also eyeing a possible foul play after it was learned that he was scheduled to appear in court that month on the firearms charge.

Iriza Njeri had reportedly withdrawn the attempt-murder charge against her husband explaining they had reconciled.

No Kenyan had won the Olympic marathon until Wanjiru in Beijing in 2008, for all of Kenya’s dominance in long-distance running. Wanjiru’s shocking death was first reported by the International Association of Athletics Federations, track and field’s world governing body.

After conquering the Beijing Olympics at 23, Wanjiru became the youngest runner to win four major marathons all over the world – 2009 Chicago Marathon, 2009 and 2010 London Marathon.

He was named by the Association of International Marathon and Distance Races as the world “Athlete of the Year” before ruling the World Marathon Majors in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010, a competition based on combined performance in the world’s major marathon.

Wanjiru was called as one of Kenya’s “sure bets for gold” at the 2012 London Olympics by the country’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga who sobbed: “Wanjiru’s death is therefore a big blow to our dreams.”

Wanjiru began his running career at the age of 15. He went to Japan in 2002 and enrolled at Sendai Ikuei Gakuen High School in Sendai. He had success on the Japanese cross country circuit, where he won the Fukuoka International Cross Country at 16 years old in 2003.

Yukio Katsumata, Wanjiru’s guardian, described the talented Kenyan as “always alert and a little (bit) naughty.” 

Wanjiru added both the Fukuoka and at the Chiba International Cross Country to his collections of glories consecutively in 2004 and 2005. After graduating in 2005, he joined the Toyota Kyushu athletics team, coached by 1992 Olympic marathon silver medalist Koichi Morishita.


Wanjiru had a 5000 metres best of 13:12.40, run as a 17 year old in April 2004 in Hiroshima, Japan. At the age of only 18, Wanjiru broke the half marathon world record on September 11, 2005 in the Rotterdam Half Marathon with a time of 59:16 minutes, officially beating Paul Tergat’s half marathon record of 59:17 minutes. This was preceded two weeks earlier by a bettering of the 10,000 meter world junior record by a margin of almost 23 seconds in the IAAF Golden League Van Damme Memorial Race on August 26. His WJR time of 26:41.75 was good enough for third place in the race behind Kenenisa Bekele’s world record of 26:17.53 and Boniface Kiprop’s 26:39.77. It was Kiprop who held the previous world junior mark (27:04.00 minutes), set at the same meeting the previous year.

Wanjiru took back the half marathon world record, which haile Gebrselassie broke in early 2006, with 58:53 minutes on February 9, 2007 at the Ras AI Khaimah Half Marathon improved it to 58:33 on March 17, 2007 in the City-Pier-City Loop in the Hague, The Netherlands. While improving his own record, he recorded an unofficial time of 55:31 for 20 kilometers or 12 miles, which was faster than Haile Gebrselassie’s world record but was never ratified due to the timing methods in the race. /MP

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