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London Olympics 2012 Marathon and a small town in waiting

Updated on July 26, 2012
Samuel Wanjiru
Samuel Wanjiru
Samuel Wanjiru - Beijing, 2008
Samuel Wanjiru - Beijing, 2008

The Kenyan town named Nyahururu, located on the slopes of Mt. Kenya, is a town of two wonders so to speak. In those early years when the Scottish geologist Joseph Thomson discovered Thomson’s Falls in 1883, never had he imagined that the falls would not only become one of the biggest falls at 72 meters, but also the development of the town so called Nyahururu would one day become a world renown town in athletics.

Nyahururu town is about 180 kilometers from the Kenyan Capital city Nairobi and at 2360 meters above sea level; it is one of the highest towns in Kenya.

The town’s high altitude probably explains why it is the source of many elite athletes that Kenya has ever produced. It is a known fact that people who have experienced high altitude climate can hold their breath longer and hence this serves athletes just as good.

Catherine Ndereba, John Ngugi and Samuel Wanjiru are some of the many athletes who comes from this town and who dominated the world big road races and big cities marathons, New York City marathon, Rotterdam marathon, London marathon, Chicago marathon etc.

Samuel Wanjiru is one these athletes who has dominated world races, world marathons and world championships including being the reigning Olympics champion in marathon. The people of Nyahururu would certainly remember the events of Beijing summer Olympics Games in 2008.

On the last day of the event they watched one of their own, Samuel Wanjiru, conquer the world in the Olympic marathon and became the first Kenyan to win an Olympic marathon Gold medal in a time of 2:06:32.

What followed thereafter was a big home-coming party for this hero in this home town of Nyahururu.

The following year - 2009, Wanjiru went ahead and became the London marathon champion in a time of 2:05:19 which was a course record by then before the time was lowered to a time of 2:04:40 by Emmanuel Mutai, himself a Kenyan, in 2011. Wanjiru also won in Chicago marathon in 2009 and 2011.

Wanjiru was born in Nyahururu in November, 1986 and moved to Japan at the age of 15 years for athletics training and completed his education in Sendai school, Japan. While in Japan, he won several cross country and track races across Japan.

It is after these achievements that Wanjiru shifted his camp to Europe where he won the Rotterdam Half-marathon in a world record time of 59:16 and only at 18 years of age. He later joined the Full-marathon and won his first full marathon at the 2007 Japan Fukuoka Marathon.

If there is an event that shocked and devastated the people of Nyahururu town, Kenya as a country and the whole world in the month of May, 2011 is the untimely death of this talented runner. Wanjiru died after falling from the balcony of his bedroom window at his Nyahururu residence.

Samuel Wanjiru and his Wife
Samuel Wanjiru and his Wife

The London 2012 Summer Olympics Games will surely miss one of the elite athlete who ignited marathon courses. Wanjiru’s manager Federico Rosa didn’t see this coming and for the people of Nahururu town and Kenya as a country it was a case of a young hero gone too soon.

Am sure there will be other elite runners from different countries that will ignite the London Olympics marathon this July and I can bet Kenyan runners will be among them but London Olympics marathon 2012 will not see the defending champion.

The people of Nyahururu will not watch their hero defend his title but they will console themselves in that out of the three or so Kenyan runners picked for the London 2012 Olympic marathon, one of them being Wilson Kipsang, the winner of London marathon 2012, may be, just may be the title might still come back home.


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