Before world record holder Eliud Kipchoge was crowned the greatest marathoner of all time, there was another Kenyan athlete and marathoner who was hitting the roads, breaking world records, not once but twice, and also breaking an Olympic record.
The athlete was so talented that in all major marathon races he participated in, he only lost once. Unfortunately, death got him at the early age of 24 years only. His name was Samuel Wanjiru, he hailed from Nyahururu.
The Kenyan long-distance runner became the first Kenyan to win a gold in the Olympic marathon. He won the 2008 Beijing Olympics Marathon in an Olympic record time of 2:06:32, becoming the youngest gold medallist in the marathon since 1932.
At age 23 only, he became the youngest man to win four major world marathons. With the last victory of his life coming in 2010. It was on 15th May 2012 that Kenyans were shocked to learn of the untimely death of Samuel Wanjiru. Here is what we know about the death of Sammy Wanjiru:
It happened late in the early hours of May 15 at his posh home in Nyahururu. Sammy fell from a second-floor balcony, a drop of about 16 feet of his house, and landed on the pavement outside. He lost consciousness and was rushed to a nearby hospital. Hospital doctors could not revive him.
If the 'greatest marathon runner' who never fully exploited his running potential would have been alive today, Wanjiru would have been 36 years old.
Below are some of his achievements in Marathon racing
1. Won the 2005 Rotterdam Half Marathon in a Word Record time of 59:16.
2. Won the 2007 RAK Half Marathon again in a world record time of 58:53.
3. He Won the 2007 City-Pier-City Half Marathon again in a world record time of 58:33
4. He won the 2007 Fukuoka Marathon in a course record time of 2:06:39.
5. He was second in the 2008 London Marathon with a superb time of 2:05:24.
6. He triumphantly won the 2008 Beijing Olympic Marathon in an Olympic Record of 2:06:32 which still stands today.
7. He again won the 2009 London Marathon in a personal best time of 2:05:10.
8. In 2009 he was first in the Chicago Marathon in a Course Record time of 2:05:41.
9. In 2010, He retained his Chicago Marathon title in another spectacular time of 2:06:24.
Another achievement that Samuel Wanjiru had to his name was that in 2005, he broke the 10.000m World U20 Record in a time of 26:41.75. He set the time at an age of only 18 years, 289 days.
Today, the man some followed like a deity lies in a “shrine” of glass, constructed about three kilometers from the Equator along the Nyahururu-Olkalou road.
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