*Kenyan Olympic marathon champion Sammy Wanjiru died in a fall from a balcony late Sunday after a domestic dispute involving his wife and another woman, police said Monday. He was 24.
One police official said Wanjiru committed suicide, while another said he jumped to stop his wife Triza Njeri from leaving the house after she discovered him with another woman.
The 24-year-old runner was pronounced dead at his home in the town of Nyahururu, in the Rift Valley, said John Mbijiwe, the police chief in Kenya’s Central Province.
Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere also said initial reports indicated Wanjiru killed himself, though a local official offered a different account.
“Wanjiru came home with another woman friend at around 11:30 p.m. and then when his wife came home and found them she inquired who the lady was,” area police chief Jasper Ombati said. “They got into an argument. His wife locked them in the bedroom and ran off.
“He then jumped from the bedroom balcony. He is not here to tell us what he thinking when he jumped. We do not suspect foul play. In our estimation we think he wanted to stop his wife from leaving the compound.”
Ombati said the balcony is between 13 and 19 feet high. He said the runner landed on a hard surface.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Wanjiru became the first Kenyan to win a gold medal in the marathon, finishing in an Olympic-record 2 hours, 6 minutes, 32 seconds.
Kenyan 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.”