Waking to morning news, the media outlets bombarded us with the sad bit of Samuel Wanjiru's passing early this morning. We shall not belabour the circumstances surrounding his death. Having been in difficult circumstances starting this year, he was in the middle of some personal crisis which seems to have ended in this tragic way.
A brief window into his life show that he had become one of Kenyan's leading marathoners having secured the 2005 Most Promising Sportsman of the Year Award, having won and broken the world half-marathon record in Rotterdam. He went on to become the first Kenyan ever to win a marathon in Beijing Olympics and in the same year came 2nd in the London Marathon sending warning signals to his rivals.
His last major exploit though was the Chicago Marathon which he won in style having run neck to neck in the last few miles with Ethiopia's Tsegaye Kedebe. Other major awards included;
2008 Sportsman of the Year Award - Kenya
2008 AIMS/ASICS World Athlete of the Year Award (sponsored by Asic)
2009 London & Chicago Marathon winner
2010 Chicago Marathon winner
His exploits had seen him secure major sponsorship from Japan and also enjoying attendance fees of upwards of US$ 50,000- 100,000 per race. SportsKenya had ranked him as one of the top earners in sports in the year 2010 in an earlier post. Little did we know this would be our last one of him being alive.
Concerns will be raised about the people surrounding him before his death and his continued
indulgences in life's pleasures. While many a sportsman usually have problems later on in their careers, his had started pressing too soon. It should be of note to future and aspiring sports personalities that while the world loves your exploits, find it deep within you to stay grounded lest the attention and allure of the earnings, lifestyle and all that comes with it start eating up your very essence of life.
Kenya has lost a young sportsman full of potential and we at SK send our sympathies to one and all. When the history books are done, it shall be noted that this young man left in the early stages of what had promised to be a talented marathoner of global status.
26th Nov 1986 - 16th May 2011 RIP Samuel Kamau Wanjiru