Press Room

Published by: Premier Marathons
Category: International News
Wed 08 Jun, 2011

SAMMY WANJIRU 1986 - 2011

We were shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden and tragic death of Kenyan Olympic Marathon Champion Sammy Wanjiru at his home (16 May) aged 24.

Sammy was considered by his peers to be one of the most talented long distance runners of his generation and will be most remembered for his victory at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games where he became Kenya's first Olympic champion in the Marathon. Recording a time of 2:06:32 in baking hot conditions, he broke the Olympic record by nearly three minutes. Only 21 at the time, Wanjiru became the youngest Olympic Marathon champion since 1932.

Wanjiru rose to prominence on the world stage in February 2007 when he broke the Half Marathon World Record, running 58:53 at the inaugural RAK Half Marathon and again the following month (58.33) at The Hague. His attentions then quickly turned towards the Marathon where he made an immediate impact. In December 2007 he won the Fukuoka Marathon in 2:06:39 before smashing his personal best the following year, four months before the Olympics, to finish second in the 2008 London Marathon in 2:05:24.

In 2009 he further improved on his performances to take first place in London clocking 2:05:10, a then course record, before capping of a memorable year by taking the first of his two Chicago Marathon crowns in 2:05:41, a course record which still stands. He defended his title last October clocking 2:06:24 in a performance which would be his last.

In recognition of his great achievements, Sammy was a recipient of both the AIMS/Citizen World's Fastest Time Award for his world record performance in The Hague and was named AIMS/ASICS World Athlete of the Year by his peers in 2009. Both awards are on exhibit in the AIMS Marathon Museum of Running in Berlin, Germany, which will stand as a lasting legacy of his fine career.

Paco Borao President of AIMS (Association of International Marathons & Distance Races) comments: 'It is with great sadness that we have lost a truly outstanding athlete so suddenly. The thoughts of the running world are with his family. Samuel will be remembered as one of the greatest marathon runners of all time and his achievements will live long in the memory.'