Sammy Wanjiru, the Kenyan marathoner who won Olympic gold in Beijing in record-breaking time, fell to his death in Nyahururu, Kenya on Sunday night. He was 24 years old.
The death is a sad, strange ending for the talented, young runner. His gold medal-winning and record-breaking run in Beijing is considered one of the most impressive marathons in Olympic history. He also won the London Marathon, and the Chicago Marathon twice.
His most recent win was the Chicago Marathon in 2010 despite an injured knee and stomach cramps. In a thrilling finish, he bested Ethiopian runner Tsegaye Kebede by just 19 seconds in October.
But his life took a turn in December, when he was charged with threatening his wife and his maid with an AK-47. The charges were later dropped. In March, Wanjiru was forced to withdraw from the London Marathon because of ongoing injury problems.
A national police spokesperson called the death a suicide, while another police official said that the death was the result of a domestic incident that began when Wanjiru's wife found him in bed with another woman. From Reuters:
Regional police chief Jaspher Ombati said that Wanjiru's wife, Triza Njeri, surprised the couple when she came home late on Sunday, locked them in the bedroom and ran outside.
"In a rage, Samuel Kamau Wanjiru jumped from the first floor of the house and he was badly injured. When he was rushed to the hospital the doctors tried to resuscitate him but unfortunately he passed on," said Ombati.
Wanjiru's agent, Federico Rosa, does not believe that the young runner committed suicide. From the New York Times:
"I am 100 percent sure there was no suicide," Rosa said. "That's completely out of the question."
Wanjiru was considered a favorite to repeat Olympic gold in London next summer, but now marathon fans are left to wonder what his future could have brought.