Joy and dance as Amsterdam king Wanjiru returns home
Friends and family gathered at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi to accord the newly crowned Amsterdam Marathon champion Daniel Kinyua Wanjiru a welcome fit for a conquering king on Tuesday afternoon.
Wanjiru’ wife Sarah Njeri and their two children travelled all the way from Kirinyaga County accompanied by his mother Delilah Wanjiru, grandmother Flora Waruguru and his coach Jason Nyaga Mbote among others to receive the latest distance running hero.
Keen not to be left out in the glory parade, the County Government of Kirinyaga also sent officials to receive the freshly minted champion; led by their Youth and Sports Minister, the Rev Magdaline Nduta and were the first to arrive at the airport.
Wanjiru waited for his wife and family to arrive first before leaving the arrivals smiling ear to ear as he rushed to great his spouse who was holding their second born in her arms.
“I’m very excited for my win. I really need one and the time was right for me since I had prepared really well. The race was very challenging but I kept faith and went for it. I did not want to think of other champions I was running against,” the man who blessed Amsterdam with a new 2:05:19 course record on Sunday beamed.
The athlete who discovered his talent whilst competing for fun in primary school reserved special adulation for his coach Mbote, a former sixth finisher at the same Amsterdam course almost a decade ago.
Mbote drove his family from Kirinyaga for the pompous occasion.
“After I completed Standard Eight, I approached Mbote and told him of my talent and he gauged me for a while. He then took me in his camp and put me up with other athletes so that I would learn from them,” Wanjiru who blew a social media storm when his exploits were compared to the late Beijing 2008 winner, Samuel Kamau Wanjiru told.
His wife Njeri, told Citizen Digital she was in church when she received the good news from a neighbour, adding they have organized they have organised a thanks giving party on Thursday to celebrate their Shujaa (hero) on Mashujaa Day, a day set aside to honour the country’s heroes.
“I’m very excited and up to now I can’t believe the news. When my neighbour came to church to tell me, I thought they were just teasing me. I was in church praying for him to win and God answered my prayers,” the elated wife offered.
His mother Wanjiru could hardly believe her son’s heroic achievement and was unable to offer more than a comment.
“I pray that the Lord to see my son through in all achievements. He has really made me proud and I’m happy for him,” she uttered, lost in all glory and adulation being bestowed on the new Amsterdam king.
Wanjiru, 24, led seven of his countrymen to clinch the top-eight places at the marathon as he humbled a slew of established runners to add his name among the athletes to watch over the ultimate distance.
Two-time Chicago runner-up Sammy Kitwara (2:05.45) and Marius Kimutai (2:05.47) grabbed all podium positions while Laban Korir (2:05:54), Ezekiel Chebii (2:06:07), Felix Kandie (2:06:25), Geoffrey Kirui (2:06:27) and defending champion Bernard Kipyego (2:06:45) followed each other home in that order.
The tragic Beijing winner Wanjiru passed on at 24 having achieved it all. The new Wanjiru in town is only getting started at the same age.
“I cannot be like Wanjiru but I will try and live up to his legacy,” the Amsterdam winner said in reverence to the Olympics record holder who passed on in 2011.
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