Sunday, May 15, 2011
Marathoner Samuel Wanjiru Has Died
Samuel Kamau Wanjiru (November 10, 1986 – May 15, 2011) was a Kenyan athlete who specialized in long distance running. He became a professional at a young age and broke the world record in the half marathon when he was 18 years old. In 2007, he broke the 20 km road running record and improved the half marathon record by over twenty seconds.
He moved up to the full marathon and won at 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. The following year, he won both the London Marathon and Chicago Marathon, running the fastest marathons ever recorded in the United Kingdom and United States, respectively. He retained his Chicago title in 2010 in a season fraught with injury.
1 Running career
1.1 Early career
1.2 World records and Olympic gold
1.3 London and Chicago wins
2 Personal life
5 Personal bests
7 External links
 Running career Early careerWanjiru started running at the age of 15. In 2002, he moved to Japan and went to 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 sixteen years old in 2003. He went on to win in both Fukuoka and at the Chiba International Cross Country consecutively in 2004 and 2005. After graduating in 2005, he joined the Toyota Kyūshū athletics team, coached by 1992 Olympic marathon silver medalist Koichi Morishita.
Wanjiru has 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.
 World records and Olympic goldWanjiru 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 Al Khaimah Half Marathon and 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 km, which was faster than Haile Gebrselassie's world record but was never ratified due to the timing methods in the race.
Wanjiru approaching the finishing line at the 2008 Summer OlympicsWanjiru made his marathon debut at Fukuoka Marathon on December 2, 2007, winning it impressively with a course record of 2:06:39. He started 2008 by winning the Zayed International Half Marathon and receiving a prize of US $300,000. In the 2008 London Marathon, he came in second, breaking 2:06 for the first time. In the 2008 Summer Olympics, Wanjiru won the marathon gold medal in an Olympic record time of 2:06:32, smashing the previous record of 2:09:21 set by Carlos Lopes of Portugal in the 1984 Olympics. He received the AIMS World Athlete of the Year Award that year in recognition of his performances.
 London and Chicago winsAt the Granollers Half Marathon in February 2008, in which Wanjiru won, the Kenyan stated his intent for the future, saying, "in five years' time I feel capable of clocking a sub 2 hours time for the marathon." In April 2009, Wanjiru won the London Marathon in a time of 2:05:10, a new personal record and also a new course record. He was pleased with the achievement and stated that he hoped to break Haile Gebrselassie's world record in the near future. At the Rotterdam Half Marathon, Wanjiru clocked a 1:01:08 on 13 September, which was won by Sammy Kitwara with a time of 58:58. In October 2009, Wanjiru won the Chicago Marathon in a time of 2:05:41, setting a new course record for the city and the fastest marathon time ever run in the United States. The wins in London and Chicago helped him reach the top of the World Marathon Majors rankings for 2009, earning him a jackpot of US$500,000.
He signed up to defend his title at the 2010 London Marathon, but he encountered knee trouble at the midway point of the race and decided to drop out to avoid further injury – the first time in six marathons that he had failed to finish. He chose to run at the 2010 Chicago Marathon in October, but a stomach virus before the race had harmed his preparations and he entered the competition with the lesser aim of reaching the top three. Tsegaye Kebede took the opportunity to forge a lead, but Wanjiru (despite a lack of peak physical form) persevered with the pace and caught up with the Ethiopian. He took the lead in the final 400 m to defend his title in Chicago with a time of 2:06:24. "It was the greatest surprise I have ever seen in my life", remarked his coach, Federico Rosa, on the performance.
 Personal lifeHis cousin Joseph Riri is a world-class marathon runner, and Wanjiru's younger brother Simon Njoroge is also a long distance runner. Wanjiru was mentored by Stephen Ndungu, a marathoner and a pace maker.
He was arrested by Kenyan police at his house in Nyahururu in December 2010 and charged with threatening to kill his wife and illegally possessing an AK-47. He denied both the accusations and claimed that he was being framed. Because of these troubles, Wanjiru did not compete in any spring marathons in 2011. Sammy passed away May 15th, 2011.
 DeathOn May 15, 2011, it was reported that Wanjiru died from a fall after jumping from a balcony at his home.