Sunday, May 15, 2011

How Sammy Wanjiru changed the marathon

Much will be written in the hours and days to come about the death of Sammy Wanjiru and his legacy, but I recall while watching the 2008 Olympic Marathon as one of those defining events that make the marathon so unique. That race had me in absolute awe.

I blogged about it back in August, 2008 when he was known as Kamau. He boldly stepped on to the world stage and changed marathoning.

As I wrote back then:

Watched it from start to finish. Great thing about having access to Canadian TV, U.S. TV and internet is that I was able to catch the whole thing, even with commercial breaks thrown in.

At first I thought that maybe the lead pack would get reeled in but wow, what a performance by Kenya's Kamau Wansiru with an Olympic record -- amazing given the weather -- of 2:06:32. Maracco's Jaouad Gharib took silver and Tsegay Kebede overtakes his compatriot from Ethiopia Deriba Merga in the final lap around the stadium. Merga showed the world what it's like to hit the wall yet showed so much courage. Felt so bad for him.

Did he change the sport? I think from the moment he made the gutsy move in Beijing, when everyone was hanging back in the heat, when Haile decided to not do the Olympics, something was changed. It led to so many 'gutsy' performances, so audacious that you see runners now go for broke over 26.2. See the Boston records smashed in the last two years? It's not Haile, I've decided. It all started with Sammy.

Anyways, I'm no pro when it comes to rating pro marathoning, but wow, he left a massive legacy. Died too early, like other running icons. He won't be forgotten.


Marlene said...

We just heard! I honestly did not know much about him, but what a sad day.

Dave said...

Crazy. I am intrigues as to how, what happened and why. Fallout form his domestic troubles of last year I assume.

Lee said...

Shocking news. That '08 Olympic marathon was one of the greatest running performances I've ever seen. RIP Sammy.

Anonymous said...

Horrible news.

Laura said...

Very sad news and such a shame.

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