Sammy Wanjiru

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 1
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameSamuel Kamau "Sammy"•Wanjiru
Used nameSammy•Wanjiru
Born10 November 1986 in Nyahururu (KEN)
Died15 May 2011 in Nyahururu (KEN)
Measurements163 cm / 51 kg
AffiliationsToyota Kyushu, Miyawaka (JPN)
NOC Kenya


Sammy Wanjiru moved to Sendai, Japan after winning a school cross-country race in his native Kenya. He excelled in Japan in cross-country, winning the Fukuoka International Cross-Country Race in 2003-05 and the Chiba International Cross-Country Race in 2004-05. In August 2005, he set a junior world record for the 10,000 metres on the track, recording 26:41.75 at the Van Damme Memorial. A few weeks later he broke the world road record for the half-marathon, with 59:16 in Rotterdam. Wanjiru ran his first marathon at the Fukuoka Marathon in 2007, winning it impressively in a course record 2-06:39. In 2008 he placed second at the London Marathon, breaking 2-06 for the first time with 2-05:24, and then overcame the heat of Beijing to win the 2008 Olympic marathon in an Olympic record 2-06:32. In 2009 Wanjiru won both the Chicago and London Marathons, recording his personal best of 2-05:10 at London. He had to withdraw from the 2010 London Marathon due to a knee problem but defended his Chicago title in 2010.

But the last few months of his life were difficult. In December 2010 he was arrested at his Kenyan home for allegedly threatening to kill his wife and also illegally possessing an AK-47 automatic assault weapon. In May 2011 Wanjiru died in what was an apparent suicide after he jumped from a balcony in his home, after his wife discovered him in bed with another woman.

Personal Bests: 5000 – 13:12.40 (2005); 10000 – 26:41.75 (2005); Half-marathon – 58:33 (2007); Mar – 2-05:10 (2009).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
2008 Summer Olympics Athletics KEN Sammy Wanjiru
Marathon, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold

Special Notes