He says he has knee problems.
Written by: David Monti
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
Samuel Wanjiru’s woes –which recently included an arrest for threatening his wife and possessing an illegal weapon, and a car accident– now include the loss of his spring marathon. The reigning Olympic and World Marathon Majors champion has been forced to withdraw from next month’s Virgin London Marathon with a knee injury, organizers said today.
“I am bitterly disappointed not to be able to race in London this year,” Wanjiru, 24, said through a news release. “Winning the London Marathon in 2009 was one of the great achievements of my career and I was hoping to become the London champion again.” He continued: “But I have been suffering some problems with my right knee recently which meant I had to withdraw from the Lisbon Half Marathon (last Sunday). Unfortunately, it has not responded well enough for me to make my final preparations for London.”
After winning last October’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon in a thrilling sprint finish over Ethiopian Tesgaye Kebede, Wanjiru has 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 (he still faces the weapons charge, however).
Wanjiru was also involved in a car accident last January on the Nairobi-Nyahururu road, rolling his four wheel drive vehicle several times trying to avoid an oncoming truck.
Acting quickly, London race director Dave Bedford has added three-time London champion Martin Lel to the field (both athletes are represented by Federico Rosa of Brescia, Italy). Lel, 32, who has a 2:05:15 personal best, won the London race in 2005, 2007 and 2008. Struggling with his own injury problems, Lel hasn’t run a marathon since finishing fourth at the Olympic Games in 2008. He has, however, completed several half-marathons, winning both the 2009 Lisbon and Great North Half-Marathons and breaking one hour in both events.
“Of course, we are very sad to lose the Olympic champion from our line-up as Sammy was a great champion here two years ago,” Bedford said in a statement. “We wish him a speedy recovery from his injury problems.” The 31st edition of the Virgin London Marathon will be held on Sunday, April 17. A history of the event’s winners can be accessed at the web site of the Association of Road Racing Statisticians here..