Watching the 2008 Beijing Olympic games was like sitting on the sidelines of a well-crafted soap opera. It had drama, sex, and secrets. Were the gymnasts from China under age? Should the synchronized swimmers from Spain be penalized for their sexy wardrobes? Did Usain Bolt act in a distasteful manner after he did a dance and lifted up his gold running shoes after breaking a world record in running? These questions kept the area around the water cooler warm and perked up with conversation. However, there were a few events at the 2008 Beijing Olympic games that didn’t ignite any disputes. One of them was the record breaking performance of Kenyan Samuel Wanjiru in the men’s marathon with a time of 2’06:32.
Samuel Kamau Wanjiru was born on November 10, 1986, in Nyahururu. It is the highest town in Kenya and a training ground for runners. It is an inspiration for anyone desiring to make it to the Olympics. For Wanjiru, it proved to be a stepping stone. Why? He embraced this area as a child, but the bulk of his training was completed in Japan; a place he moved to in 2002. There, he joined the Toyota Kyushu athletics team and sat under the coaching of a prior silver marathon medallist Koichi Morishita. This led to him (Wanjiru) breaking the half marathon world record on September 11, 2005.
However, Wanjiru never gave up his Kenyan roots. How could he? His people were there and he had a little family competition. Cousin Joseph Riri and young brother Simon Njoroge are both long distance runners. So, of course, he had to represent his country in the Olympic games and prove that the award he’d received just years earlier as “Kenyan Most Promising Sportsman of the Year” was right. Through his well-honed talent, Samuel Wanjiru was able to break an Olympic record and end a title drought that has plagued Kenya for years.