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Raila: It’s a big blow to our dreams

Monday May 16 2011

By CHRIS MUSUMBA [email protected]

Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Wanjiru was “steadily developing into our country’s running phenomenon.”

He offered condolences to family, friends, Kenya and the entire world athletics community, calling the death “a big blow to our dreams.”

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka joined in saying Kenya had lost one of its most promising sports ambassadors.

“It is a national loss. We condone the family and mourn the fallen hero who brought fame and treasured medals to Kenya.

“He showed exemplified patriotism, which we must emulate. Like his victories, his death must unite Kenyans,” said Mr Musyoka.

Sports minister Paul Otuoma expressed his sorrow over the loss of Wanjiru saying he was one of the talented runners Kenya has ever produced.

Otuoma said while marathon is almost exclusive for the older and experienced athletes, yet Wanjiru at 21 broke the half marathon record and won the Olympics.

Exercise caution

“Kenya and the entire world remember the strong and emphatic way in which Wanjiru dominated the race,” he said.

Kenya’s athletics industry was united in grief following the sudden death of Olympic marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru on Sunday night.

Many of his fellow athletes are sharing their shock and grief over his passing, and paying tribute as well.

Head coach Julius Kirwa said, his death will deny Kenya an automatic Olympic berth in 2012, as Wanjiru was expected to defend his crown in London.

“Such a polite and good athlete ends up like this. It is a step back in our effort to develop athletics.

“I would call on all athletes to exercise caution and patience or seek counselling if faced with such challenges. I am shocked and send my condolences to his family,” said Kirwa.

International competitions

Former world marathon record holder Paul Tergat said Wanjiru’s death was untimely for an athlete who had a bright future in his career.

“I am shocked to hear that Wanjiru is dead. He was one of the few athletes; I could say was able to challenge the world marathon record. He was doing so well,” said Tergat.

Athletics Kenya (AK) secretary general David Okeyo sent his condolence to the family describing the dead as a jovial man who had represented the country well at major international competitions either in his private capacity or as a member of the national team.

“He was young and ambitious and we had planned to build around him the foundation of marathon running in Kenya.

“He wanted to excel and together we would have done well. He presented a crop of young marathon runners who have helped put Kenya’s name on the world map,” said Okeyo.