Troubled Olympic champion 'considered Qatari citizenship'By ELIAS MAKORI and DAVID MACHARIA | Tuesday, May 15 2012 at 12:29
Kenya’s Olympic marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru was a frustrated man before his death and even considered taking up Qatari citizenship to make more money.
According to this week’s issue of The New Yorker magazine, coinciding with the first anniversary of the star runner’s death, Wanjiru was unsettled and struggling with a drinking problem.
“He went back to Nyahururu, and his drinking intensified. Friends and family did not see him for days at a time. He told (training partner and friend Daniel) Gatheru that he had considered taking Qatari nationality and running for the Gulf state in exchange for a big salary,” Xan Rice writes in his article titled Finish Line.
Rice adds that after shifting his training base from Nyahururu to Eldoret under Italian coach and sports scientist Claudio Berardelli, things seemed to be looking up for Wanjiru who now showed interest in running in either the Chicago or New York marathons last year.
Rice writes: “...on Monday, May 9th, he (Wanjiru) and Gatheru arrived in Eldoret. For a week, they trained in the morning, relaxed in the afternoon, and were home for dinner and an early night.
That Saturday, Gatheru said to Berardelli, “I think Sammy is finding himself again. He wants to run in Chicago or New York.”
As more facts on the star runner’s troubled life and dramatic death continue to emerge, and with today marking one year since the Olympic marathon champion died, all indications are that there will be no elaborate commemoration ceremony.
But Gatheru, who was among the last people to be with Wanjiru, said they would lay a wreath at the grave to mark the anniversary.
Gatheru said “several” athletes had agreed to meet in Nyahururu town this morning before proceeding to the site at Gatimu village near the airstrip to pay homage to their departed colleague.
“Several of us have agreed to meet in town and proceed to the grave to lay flowers there,” Gatheru said.
“The day reminds me of the last day I was with him. It appears like yesterday”, Gatheru said on Monday. By late Monday, the family of the late athlete had not indicated whether they had any arrangements to commemorate the day.
Wanjiru surprised many athletics lovers by his astronomical achievements in the sport at very young age.
He was 24 when he died from what police said was a fall from the balcony of the first floor of his house at affluent Muthaiga Estate in Nyahururu town.
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