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The Star Online: Sports

Olympic marathon champ Wanjiru commits suicide (Updated)

Posted: 16 May 2011 12:43 AM PDT

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP): Kenyan Olympic marathon champion Sammy Wanjiru committed suicide by jumping from a balcony shortly after a domestic dispute involving his wife and another woman, police said Monday. He was 24.

Wanjiru died late Sunday after jumping from a balcony at his home in the town of Nyahururu, in the Rift Valley, said John Mbijiwe, the police chief in Kenya's Central Province.

"The fact of the matter is that Wanjiru committed suicide," said national police spokesman Eric Kiraithe.

Wanjiru's 11 p.m. suicide jump came shortly after an argument with his wife, said a police official who was not authorized to release the information and asked for anonymity.

Wanjiru, who had been drinking, was with another woman in his home and was discovered by his wife, the official said.

In 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.

Wanjiru had a history of domestic problems. Last December, he was charged with wounding his security guard with a rifle and threatening to kill his wife and maid. The runner denied all charges and was released on bail.

Wanjiru made an early start to his career, moving to Japan aged 15 where he attended school in Sendai - a city hard hit by this year's tsunami - where he won some major cross country events while also competing in track competitions.

Moving to Europe to advance his promising career, Wanjiru won the Rotterdam Half Marathon in 2005 in a world record time.

He twice improved on that record before stepping up to the full marathon in 2007, back in Japan, winning the Fukuoka Marathon.

The following year he finished second in the prestigious London marathon, and then claimed the biggest prize of his career by taking Olympic gold in Beijing.

Wanjiru became the youngest runner to win four major marathons. In addition to the Olympics, he won in London in 2009 and in Chicago in 2009 and 2010, in the process running the fastest ever time recorded in a marathon in the United States.

Marathon great Haile Gebrselassie, a two-time Olympic champion and world record holder, said on his Twitter feed that he was "totally shocked" by the news.

"My thoughts are with his family and all his friends and colleagues," Gebrselassie said.

"Of course one wonders if we as an athletics family could have avoided this tragedy."

American marathon runner Ryan Hall posted on Twitter: "Incredibly sad news about Sammy. I am shocked and saddened."

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No big move on a rain-shortened day at Sawgrass

Posted: 15 May 2011 07:12 PM PDT

PONTE VEDRA BEACH (Florida): Britain's Graeme McDowell and Nick Watney of the United States share the lead on 11-under at the Players Championship after a rain-delayed on Saturday but the battle for the 'fifth major' remains wide open.

The pair completed just five holes of their third round after a four and a half hour delay at TPC Sawgrass due to a heavy thunder storm.

US Open champion McDowell, of Northern Ireland, and Watney, winner of March's World Golf Championship tournament at Doral, will come back at 7:45am local to complete the 13 remaining holes before taking a break and coming back in the afternoon for their fourth round.

Experienced American pair Steve Stricker and David Toms are both a shot behind, followed by compatriot Lucas Glover and South Korean K.J Choi a further shot back on nine-under.

The heavy rain softened the course and with the wind dropping it was a much tamer challenge for the leaders when they finally emerged from the clubhouse after a frustrating day of waiting.

"The golf course had changed significantly when we did get back out there. There greens were a lot more receptive, the fairways too and so you can play the course much more aggressively," said McDowell.

"I think that is going to make for low scoring on Sunday," McDowell birdied three of his five holes while Watney birdied the opening two and there were others who took advantage of the easier conditions to rise up the leaderboard.

Germany's Martin Kaymer, the world number two, birdied five of his opening seven holes but then three bogeys saw him slip back and he ended the day three strokes off the lead alongside Britain's Luke Donald.

McDowell said the changed conditions had opened up the battle for Sunday's title much more.

"I'm under no illusions, if the course had have stayed the same and continued to firm up then 10 or 11 under might have won this tournament, but I think it is going to take 15 or maybe 16 under now things have softened up," he said.

While Watney leads the American challenge to McDowell, 44-year-old Toms, without a PGA Tour win in five years, is still very much in the frame.

"It's going to be a very long day tomorrow, especially for an old guy," Toms said.

"I've got to go 31 holes of golf, but hopefully I will play some good golf and that will give me the boost you need for a long day.

"I think you'll probably see some good scoring so I'm going to have to go out there and start making some and have a good day myself." — Reuters

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