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Kenya Olympic marathon star Sammy Wanjiru dies in fall

Kenya Olympic marathon star Sammy Wanjiru dies in fall

The Kenyan Olympic marathon champion, Samuel "Sammy" Wanjiru, has died after falling from a balcony at his home in the Rift Valley town of Nyahururu.

National police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said it appeared he had killed himself.

The 24-year-old won in Beijing in 2008 in an Olympic record time, becoming Kenya's first marathon champion.

Last December, he was charged with threatening to kill his wife, Triza Njeri, assault and the illegal possession of an AK-47 assault rifle.

Mrs Njeri subsequently withdrew her accusations, saying they had reconciled.

However, Wanjiru was due to appear before a court on 23 May on the charge of illegal possession of a firearm.

Prize money

The BBC's Will Ross in Nairobi says the Olympic champion had a stormy relationship with his wife.

After a domestic dispute, he fell from the balcony of his home in Nyahururu, 150km (93 miles) north-west of Nairobi.

Nyahururu police chief Jasper Ombati said the dispute began when Mrs Njeri returned unexpectedly to find Wanjiru with a female friend, according to the Daily Nation newspaper.

Police are currently questioning both women about the incident.

Wanjiru suffered internal injuries as a result of his fall and was pronounced dead in hospital after attempts to revive him failed.

Our correspondent says some Kenyans believe his domestic problems were linked to his recently acquired wealth from prize money.

Kenya has lost a great runner at a tragically young age, he says.

As well as becoming the youngest Olympic champion since 1932, Wanjiru also set marathon course records in London and Chicago.

Posted on Monday 16th May 2011

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