Kenyan Olympic Gold Medalist Dies at 24

The events leading up to Sammy Wanjiru's jump from a balcony are still not clear.

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Sammy Wanjiru (Jim Prisching/Getty Images)

Kenyan Olympic marathon champion Sammy Wanjiru died in a jump from a balcony after a domestic dispute involving his wife and another woman, police said today. He was 24 years old.

It's still unclear exactly what happened -- one police official said that Wanjiru committed suicide, while another said he jumped to stop his wife from leaving the house after she discovered him with another woman, the Washington Post reports.

Wanjiru won the men's marathon at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beiijing, becoming the first Kenyan to win a gold medal in the marathon. He finished in an Olympic record-setting 2 hours, 6 minutes and 32 seconds. He was also the youngest runner to win four major marathons. He took first place in London in 2009 and in Chicago in 2009 and 2010, setting another record for the fastest time ever recorded in a marathon in the United States.

Wanjiru was "steadily developing into our country's running phenomenon," Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said. He offered condolences to family and friends, calling the death "a big blow to our dreams."

"Sammy Wanjiru was an accomplished runner who will be remembered for winning the first Olympic gold medal for Kenya in marathon and setting a new Olympic record in the process," the International Olympic Committee said in a statement. "Our thoughts are with his family and friends."

This young athlete's death -- whatever the exact cause turns out to be -- represents a serious and untimely loss for Kenya and for the world athletic community.

Read more at the Washington Post.

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