Samuel Wanjiru

Samuel Wanjiru

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Samuel Wanjiru
Event marathon
Nationality Kenyan
Born Nov. 10, 1986 at Nyahururu, Kenya
Current Residence Fukuoka, Japan

Samuel Kamau Wanjiru (born November 10, 1986 in Nyahururu) is a Kenyan long distance runner who won the 2008 Beijing Olympic men's Marathon in an Olympic record time of 2:06:32.


Wanjiru started running at the age of 15. In 2002, he moved to Japan and went to Sendai Ikuei Gakuen High School in Sendai, from where he graduated in 2005. He then joined the Toyota Kyushu athletics team, coached by 1992 Olympic marathon silver medalist Koichi Morishita [1].

At the age of only 18 Wanjiru broke the half marathon world record on September 11, 2005 in the Rotterdam Half Marathon with a time of 59:16 minutes, officially beating Paul Tergat's half-marathon record of 59:17 minutes. This was preceded two weeks earlier by a bettering of the 10,000 meter World Junior Record by a whopping margin of almost 23 seconds in the IAAF Golden League Van Damme Memorial Race on August 26. His WJR time of 26:41.75 was good enough for third place in the race behind Boniface Kiprop Toroitich's 26:39.77 and Kenenisa Bekele's World Record of 26:17.53.

His half-marathon record was broken by Ethiopian track and road running legend Haile Gebrselassie on January 15, 2006 at Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon. Wanjiru took back the half marathon world record with 58:53 minutes on February 9, 2007 in Ras al Khaimah[2]and improved it to 58:33 on March 17, 2007 in The Hague, The Netherlands. While improving his own record, he also broke Haile Gebrselassie's 20 km world record with a time of 55:31, a 17-second improvement.

Wanjiru made his marathon debut at Fukuoka Marathon on December 2, 2007, winning it impressively with a course record of 2:06:39.[3]In the 2008 London Marathon he came in second, breaking 2:06 for the first time. In the 2008 Beijing Olympic Marathon, Wanjiru won the gold medal in an Olympic record time of 2:06:32, smashing the previous record of of 2:09:21 set by Carlos Lopes of Portugal in the 1984 Olympics. Samuel Wanjiru is also the first male runner from Kenya to win Gold in this event.

Wanjiru was awarded the 2005 Kenyan Most Promising Sportsman of the Year award.[4]

He has a 5,000 meter best of 13:12.40, run as a 17 year old in April of 2004 in Hiroshima, Japan.

His cousin Joseph Riri is a world-class marathon runner,[5] whereas Samuel's younger brother Simon Njoroge is a long distance runner too. He was mentored by Stephen Ndungu, a marathoner and a pace maker.

At the 2008 Summer Olympics, Wanjiru won the marathon in a Olympic record 2 hours, 6 minutes, 32 seconds. He is the first Kenyan to win a gold for his country in the marathon.


  1. Daily Nation, July 19, 2008: OLYMPICS: Wanjiru aims for Beijing gold
  2. 58:53 Half Marathon World Record by Wanjiru in Ras al Khaimah, IAAF, February 9, 2007
  3. IAAF: December 2, 2007: 2:06:39 debut victory for Wanjiru in Fukuoka
  4. Athletes dominate Kenyan Sports Awards, IAAF, March 2, 2006
  5. IAAF, December 16, 2007: Wanjiru, Kenya’s next marathon great?

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