Olympic champion Sammy Wanjiru dead at 24
By David Monti, Race Results Weekly
Olympic Marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru of Kenya has died, apparently from a fall from a balcony at his home. The news was reported to Race Results Weekly in a telephone call by Shadrack Biwott, the former University of Oregon Duck who had spoken to his brother, marathoner Duncan Kibet, in Kenya.
"He jumped out of a balcony and they tried to revive him, but he didn't make it," said Biwott.
Federico Rosa, Wanjiru's manager, confirmed his client's death via a text message. No other details about his death are available at this time.
Wanjiru won the Olympic marathon title in Beijing in 2008 with an Olympic record performance of 2:06:32. His other marathon victories included Chicago in 2009 and 2010, Fukuoka in 2007, and London in 2009. Wanjiru was the World Marathon Majors points champion for the 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 seasons, and had a career best time of 2:05:10. He was also the former world record holder for the half-marathon with a 58:33 personal best.
After winning last October's Bank of America Chicago Marathon in a thrilling sprint finish over Ethiopian Tesgaye Kebede, Wanjiru faced several difficulties.
Last December, he was arrested at his home in Nyahururu and charged with threatening his wife, striking a security guard, and possessing an illegal AK-47 rifle. Wanjiru was released on bail, and his wife later withdrew her charges against him, but he still faced the weapons charge, however.
In January, Wanjiru was also involved in a car accident on the Nairobi-Nyahururu road, rolling his four wheel drive vehicle several times trying to avoid an oncoming truck. He avoided serious injury in the incident, but later withdrew from April's Virgin London Marathon with a knee problem.
American marathoner Ryan Hall reacted to the news of Wanjiru's death on Twitter, posting, "Incredibly sad news about Sammy. I am shocked and saddened."
Universal Sports contributed to this report
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission