Olympic marathon champion Wanjiru dead

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Olympic marathon champion Wanjiru dead


In this file photo dated Aug. 24, 2008, Kenya’s Samuel Wanjiru celebrates winning the gold during the men’s marathon at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Wanjiru died in Kenya early yesterday after jumping from a balcony, police said. [AP/YONHAP]

NYAHURURU, Kenya - Kenyan Olympic marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru was killed when he jumped off the balcony of his home late on Sunday, police said on Monday.

Police said they were trying to ascertain whether the 24-year-old - the first Kenyan to win an Olympic gold medal, which he did in Beijing in 2008 - had deliberately killed himself by jumping off the balcony at his home in Nyahururu, a town in the Rift Valley, some 150 kilometers (94 miles) northwest of the capital Nairobi.

Jaspher Ombati, the regional police chief for the area, said Wanjiru appeared to have suffered internal injuries after the fall and was confirmed dead by doctors at a nearby hospital.

“I can confirm that Wanjiru is dead. It is not yet clear whether it was a suicide or if he jumped out of rage, or what caused him to fall to the ground,” Ombati told Reuters.

“He jumped from his first floor balcony to the ground. He was bleeding from the nose and the mouth, and may have suffered internal injuries,” the police chief said.

Ombati said police were investigating a possible love triangle that could have been behind the death of Wanjiru, who was a former winner of the Chicago and London marathons as well as a former world record holder for the half marathon, which he broke when he was 18-years-old.

Ombati said the athlete’s wife, Triza Njeri, had come home to find Wanjiru in bed with another woman, and had locked the couple in the bedroom and ran outside.

Wanjiru then leapt from the balcony, he said.

Ombati said Njeri and Wanjiru’s female companion are assisting police in investigating the death.

Last December, Wanjiru was charged in court with threatening to kill Njeri and illegal possession of an AK-47 assault rifle.

Njeri later withdrew her accusation of attempted murder against him in court, saying the couple had reconciled.

He also suffered minor injuries from a car crash in January when he swerved to avoid an oncoming truck, hit a pot hole and rolled his car.

Wanjiru defied the heat of Beijing in 2008 to triumph in an Olympic record time at the games held in China.

As a young man, Wanjiru moved to Japan in 2002 to attend high school after winning a cross country selection trial in Kenya.


한글 관련 기사 [연합]

베이징 올림픽 마라톤 금메달 완지루 사망

2008년 베이징 올림픽 마라톤에서 금메달을 딴 새뮤얼 완지루(케냐)가 자신의 집 발코니에서 떨어져 사망했다. 향년 24세.

16일 시카고 트리뷴 인터넷판은 육상 기록 주간지(Race Results Weekly)의 보도를 인용, "마라톤 챔피언 완지루가 이날 자신의 집에서 발코니 밖으로 뛰어내렸고 주변 사람들이 소생술을 시도했으나 끝내 사망했다"고 전했다.

시카고 마라톤 디렉터 캐리 핀코우스키는 "완지루의 에이전트 페데리코 로자가 그의 사망 소식을 이메일로 알려왔다"고 말했다.

로자는 "완지루의 사망 소식을 들었다. 그러나 아직 공식적인 사망 진단서는 받지 못했다"고 밝혔다.

완지루의 사망과 관련한 더 자세한 사실을 아직 알려지지 않았다.

그는 올림픽 역사상 최연소 마라톤 챔피언이자 올림픽 마라톤에서 금메달을 딴 최초의 케냐인이기도 하다.

그는 2008 베이징 올림픽에서 2시간 6분 32초 기록으로 종전의 올림픽 기록을 3분 가까이 단축하며 월계관을 썼다.

완지루는 2009년 런던 마라톤도 제패했고 이어 시카고 마라톤에서 2시간 5분 41초 기록으로 대회 신기록을 경신했다. 지난해 대회에서는 부상 와중에도 에티오피아의 체가예 케베데 선수와 각축을 벌인 끝에 또다시 1위에 올라 시카고 마라톤 2관왕이 됐다.

완지루는 지난해 12월 아내 살인 미수 혐의로 체포되는 불명예를 안았다. 그러나 완지루가 공격 소총으로 자신을 위협했다고 주장했던 그의 아내는 지난 2월 소를 취하했다.

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