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Olympic Marathon Champ Sammy Wanjiru Dead

  • By Mario Fraioli
  • Published May. 15, 2011
  • Updated May. 16, 2011 at 6:40 PM UTC
Sammy Wanjiru on his way to winning the 2009 London Marathon. Photo: PhotoRun.net

Sammy Wanjiru on his way to winning the 2009 London Marathon. Photo: PhotoRun.net

Manager confirms he died tragically Monday morning in Kenya.

Sammy Wanjiru, the 24-year old Kenyan who lit the marathoning world on fire over the course of his young professional career, died tragically in his native Kenya on Monday morning. The news was confirmed by his manager, Federico Rosa, via telephone on Sunday, 4:00 p.m. PST.

While Rosa did not release details of Wanjiru’s death, news reports are claiming that Wanjiru died as a result of a fall from a balcony at his home.

Wanjiru, whose career was highlighted with an impressive gold medal performance at the 2008 Olympic Marathon in Beijing, also won the last two Chicago Marathons (2:06:23, 2:05:41, respectively). He was victorious at London in 2009 (2:05:10 [PR] and Fukuoka in 2007 (2:06:39).

In the half marathon, Wanjiru was twice a world record holder. As an 18-year old in 2005 at the Rotterdam Half Marathon, he ran 59:16 to take one second off Paul Tergat’s mark. In 2007, Wanjiru ran 58:33 at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon to take 20 seconds off Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie’s time of 58:53 run in 2006.

In recent years Wanjiru was marred by personal troubles and he did not compete in a spring marathon in 2011. According to Rosa, Wanjiru’s recent training had been going well and he was planning a return to racing later this year.

Read More On Wanjiru:

5/16/11–Photo Gallery: Remembering Sammy Wanjiru (1986-2011)

5/16/11–Sammy Wanjiru: One Of The Best Ever

1/23/11—Sammy Wanjiru Wounded in Car Accident

12/15/10—Wanjiru Charged Over Threat to Kill Wife

10/11/10—Wanjiru Wins 2010 Chicago Marathon

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Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli is a senior editor at Competitor magazine. A cross-country All-American at Stonehill College in 2003, he now coaches the Prado Women's Racing Team in San Diego and was the men's marathon coach for Costa Rica's 2012 Olympic team. His first book, The Official Rock 'n' Roll Guide To Marathon & Half-Marathon Training (VeloPress, 2013) is available in bookstores, running shops and online.

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