Case Study

Kamau’s birth and education background:
Samuel Kamau Wanjiru was born in Olkalau Division, Nyandarua North District on the 10th of November 1986. His single mother Hannah Wanjiru had two sons, Samuel Kamau and Simon Njoroge. From this humble background Samuel Kamau Wanjiru started his primary school education at Githunguri Primary School, 30km from Nyahururu town. Wanjiru participated in internal games and realized his athletic talent in 1994.
Wanjiru`s education was characterized by abject poverty since his single mother Hannah Wanjiru could not afford shoes, lunch, books and to crown it all school fees which saw Kamau drop out of school in standard seven. He started training at home but was unable to concentrate and so joined a local running club . In order to fully concentrate on his athletics, Samuel decided to train away from home. In the year 2000 he participated in the Kenya National Primary Athletics Championships in Kisumu town in Western Kenya. He finished 3rd in the 10,000m.

The meeting was attended by a couple of coaches who also noted Samuel`s potential. However, these coaches were unable to pay for his upkeep leaving Samuel in a dilemma. He was in a limbo situation, not knowing where to turn.

Best home:
Samuel came to the realization that east or west home is the best so he returned home to his single mother and brother Simon Njoroge. Although his mother was happy at his return she was also in a fix because she felt that she was not able to support her two sons upkeep especially nurturing her first born son`s new found talent in athletics.
Being a religious woman she kept praying to God for his divine intervention.

Light at the end of the tunnel:
As Samuel continued to stay with his mother in abject poverty he remembered whilst in Kisumu he had met some athletes who train in Nyeri at Mt.Kenya High Altitude Training Camp [Central Kenya],now Mt.Kenya Talents Development Centre [MKTDC] under mentor Stephen Ndungu. He expressed his wish to join the camp [if given permission by his family].
According to Kikuyu culture, a single mother is not allowed to make a sole decision regarding her children, she therefore consulted her brother John Mwihia [Samuel`s uncle]. They all agreed to travel to the Nyeri camp [a distance of about 100km] to see mentor Stephen Ndungu and hand over Samuel Kamau to him.

Samuel_Wanjiru_second_from_rightOn their way to Nyeri, Samuel`s uncle Mwihia dug deep in his pockets and bought 1kg each of sugar and rice. This is because in Kikuyu culture it is not right to pay a visit empty handed.They arrived at Ndungu`s home and after their discussion Samuel was left in the camp. Whilst here he trained very well and won several races [local races, Nyeri district cross and other local road races].

Due to his good performances Samuel Kamau became a hero in Nyeri, his mentor Stephen Ndungu started to look for a sponsor to enable Samuel pursue his athletic career abroad, In 2002 Ndungu spoke to Japanese athletics promoter Mr. Sunnichi Kobayashi who is based in Kenya. Samuel went to Nairobi where they began the process of organizing his travel documents. He left for Japan in march 2002 and joined Sendai Ekuei Gakuen High School in Sendai city where he studied the Japanese language and the culture for 3 years.

In 2004 he finished his studies and gained employment with Toyota Motor Corporation in Kyushu Japan. On the 11th September 2005 he broke the World Half Marathon record during the Rotterdam Half Marathon [in The Netherlands] in 59:16. This record was later broken by Haile Gebreselassie on the 15th January 2006 during Rock n` Roll Half Marathon in Phoenix Arizona [USA] in 58:55. While in Kenya he trains in Nyahururu and Ngong with his younger brother Simon Njoroge.

Personal best:

  • 1500 metres-3:50:28-Nagasaki-30-07-2003
  • 5000 metres-13:12:40-Hiroshima-29-04-2005
  • 10,000 metres-26:41:75-Brussels-26-8-2005
  • 10 kilometres-27:27-Den Haag-17-3-2007
  • 15 kilometres-41:29-Ras Al Khaimah -9-2-2007
  • 20 kilometres-55:31-Den Haag-17-3-2007
  • Half Marathon-58:33-Den Haag-17-3-2007
  • Marathon-2:05:24-London-13-04-2008

On 09/02/2007 in United Arab Emirates, he again broke the World Half Marathon record in Ras Khaimah International Half Marathon running 58:53. On 17/3/2007 in Hague Netherlands he bettered his own World record of 58:53 during the Fortis City-Pier-City Half Marathon. He also broke the 20km World Record on route with 55:31. His new Half Marathon World Record stands at 58:35. At an age of 21 Samuel Wanjiru who is only 1.63ft and weighs 52kg has achieved part of what seemed impossible in his life, Samuel is coached by a Japanese coach Mr.Koichi Morisaita and mentored by Stephen Ndungu, finest pacer maker [`King Maker`] and World marathon runner.

Samuel has also established himself as an accomplished Marathon runner. His debut marathon was in Fukuoka on 02/12/2007. Samuel stormed to victory, breaking Haile Gebrselassie`s course record in a time of 2:06:39. Samuel`s second marathon was even more impressive, with a second place in the London Marathon in a time of 2:05:24, breaking the old course record [and previous World record mark].

Beijing Olympics-2008. Samuel Kamau Wanjiru becomes the New Olympic Marathon champion,Olympic Marathon record holder and the first Kenyan ever to attain gold in an Olympic Marathon .

On 26/4/2009 Olympic champion Samuel Wanjiru broke Martin Lel`s one-year-old course record to win the 2009 Flora London Marathon in a personal best of 2:05:10 after gripping battle with Ethiopia`s Tsegaye Kebede. On 11th October 2009 he won the 23rd Bank of America Chicago marathon and eclipsed Khalid Khannounchi`s 1999 course record of 2:05:42 by one second to finish officially in 2:05:41.Samuel_Wanjiru_in_blue_Mizuno_tshirt

He claimed the $ 75,000 USD prize purse for overall winner and took home additional $100,000 USD for breaking the course record, his time is the fastest time recorded on American soil. And to crown it all he was declared 2008-2009 World Marathon Major [WMM] winner and pocketed $500,000 USD jackpot, he is the youngest runner with three World Marathon Majors victories, In Beijing,London and Chicago. On 18th Sept.2010 he was the ambassador for the 7th UAP Ndakaini Half Marathon,the toughest half marathon in the world. He featured in the fun run to motivate children looking up to emulate his success in distance running . Speaking at the same function, Olympic marathon champion, Samuel Kamau Wanjiru said ” Athletes should come out and support such events that prove you do not have to run abroad to make money. Nowadays, sport is business and fellow youth should focus more on it since it is not a must that one must be employed at an office to make a living ” .

On 10th October 2010 he won the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, he battled Ethiopia Tsegaye Kebede nearly until the race`s final 400 metes straight away before claiming victory by 19 seconds in 2:06:24. ” You have to think, Said Samuel Wanjiru. ” You go to war, you are fighting. ” On 8th November 2010 in New York City he was crowned the champion of 2009-2010 World Marathon Majors series and he was presented with $500,000 USD. He accumulated 75 points over two years series with a win at the 2009 Virgin London Marathon and back to back victories at the 2008-2009 World Marathon Major series. He secured the 2009-2010 WMM series win with a thrilling victory over Ethiopia Tsegaye Kebede at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 10th 2010.

” Last year I promised i would be back here to defend my World Marathon Major title and I`m proud to have fulfilled that promise ” . ” Being the Olympic Marathon champion is a dream for everyone, but to win the World Marathon Major series means that you have to be strong and consistent over two years and I`m happy to have achieved this honor twice ” . Said the reigning World Marathon Olympic champion. [ ]

Samuel`s next target is to break Haile Gebrselassie`s world marathon record of 2:03:59, which he set in the Berlin marathon on the 28th September 2008. He could have broken it in 2009 Chicago Marathon, but the pace makers were too slow for him. Samuel has already set his eyes on London 2012 Olympic Marathon where he hopes to repeat his winning formula from Beijing. The 2012 London Olympic games will be held as from 27th July 2012 to 2nd August 2012.Samuel Kamau Wanjiru during the 2008 Olympics

To nurture his vision of helping young and poor youths, Samuel Wanjiru has visited many children homes in Kenya [e.g. Kumbuka Watoto ,Home of the Good Shepherd paying school fees for some children and working with some great charities like Shoe4Africa, where he is the Ambassador. When he broke the World record, he donated $25,000 bonus to the children`s home where his mother works in Nyahururu. Samuel has confirmed that he is going to help more children in realizing their talent and encourage them not to lose hope. He has confirmed that he will help build Mt.Kenya Talents Development Centre in Nyeri,Central Kenya where he was training . Everybody has potential.

On 15 May 2011, Wanjiru died from a fall off a balcony at his home in Nyahururu, a town in the Rift Valley, about 150 kilometres (93 miles) northwest of the capital, Nairobi. Wanjiru appeared to have suffered internal injuries after the fall and was confirmed dead by doctors at a nearby hospital after attempts to revive him failed. Police are still uncertain as to whether his death was a suicide, homicide, or accidental.
We still have more success stories coming here,because we have more young and upcoming athletes training at our Camps.”In Kenya a champion is born everyday”.

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