Wanjiru: ‘Gone and forgotten 10 years on’
The 10th anniversary of the death of Olympic marathon champion Samuel Kamau Wanjiru passed without any activity at the weekend.
No flowers were laid at his mausoleum, not even by family members, an indication that the larger-than-life image the athlete had built in his short time in the sport is almost forgotten.
“We used to have a road race organised in his honour but it was discontinued due to poor organisation,” said Solomon Wachira, a former athlete.
The athlete’s mother Hanna Wanjiru and widow Triza Njeri said their focus now is the inquest in a Nairobi court that is looking into the cause of his death, 10 years ago.
The inquest has been postponed to August this year when witness testimonies are most likely to be concluded and ruling delivered after that.
On May 15, 2011, Wanjiru died after allegedly falling off a balcony at his home at the affluent Muthaiga estate in Nyahururu town following a domestic dispute at about 10pm.
Police are still uncertain whether his death was a suicide, homicide, or accidental, and thus the reason for the inquest. The mother believes he was killed.
A visit to Gitimu village where Wanjiru was buried and a mausoleum built, revealed a deserted compound with an empty zero-grazing structure standing conspicuously next to the mausoleum.
Kamau had many friends when he was alive but none of them visited to lay flowers.
But even if they had visited they could not have accessed the mausoleum since the gate was locked.
At the time the runner died, the now idle zero grazing shed had 15 heads of grade cattle that used to give 50 gallons of milk daily.
The cows were sold one after the other soon after the death and burial of Wanjiru who won Kenyan’s first Olympic marathon gold in a championship record time during games held in Beijing, China in 2008.
In addition, he won other major marathons including London and Chicago (twice).
Wanjiru was born on November 10, 1986 and specialised in long distance running and turned professional at the age of 18 years.
He broke several records including the Olympic marathon of 2:06.32. While winning London and twice Chicago, he recorded the fastest marathon run ever recorded in the United Kingdom and United States respectively.
After dropping out of primary school locally because his mother could not educate both his brother Simon Njoroge and him, Wanjiru moved to Japan where he joined Sendai Ikuei Gakuen High School where he honed his running skills and went on to win Fukuoka marathon in Japan – his first marathon race.
In December, 2010, Wanjiru was arrested for illegal possession of an assault rifle and threatening to kill Triza.
He was charged in a Nyahururu court. By the time of his death, the gun possession case was still going on but the threat one had been withdrawn after he reconciled with the wife.