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Olympic marathon champion laid to rest in Kenya

06-13-2011 08:38 BJT

NYAHURU, Kenya, June 11 (Xinhua) -- Olympic marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru was finally laid to rest on Saturday in a sombre funeral at his Nyahururu farm in central Kenya.

His send off attracted tens of thousands who braved intermittent downpour to give their hero a befitting farewell.

London Marathon race director David Bedford announced the World Marathon Majors (WMM) trophy would be named after the two-time winner of the elite marathon series.

"Wanjiru was the greatest marathoner. It is only fitting for the trophy he won twice to be named after him," Bedford said.

"As the marathon majors representative, I must say we have lost our best icon. His Olympics performance was the best ever marathon run."

The father of Kenyan Athletics, Kipchoge Keino who is the head of Kenya's Olympics Committee, said the world had lost a true hero.

"Today, a great man has gone to rest. His sad death should be a lesson to our athletes and they should take care. We shall see what best memorial to give him when our Olympics Committee sits but they should consider naming Nyahururu Stadium after him," the retired double Olympics winner stated.

"I cannot imagine London 2012 Olympics will be without Wanjiru. He was a unique runner, a kind soul and we can only pray that we shall get another like him," twice women's world marathon champion Catherine Ndereba eulogised.

The tight security was to avert any attempt at stopping the ceremony as threatened by the mother, Hannah Wanjiru, who opposed the burial.

She was not present at the service or burial site and reports say the mother who holds her son was murdered was kept at a secret location under police guard. Retired and active athletes came in their numbers to pay their last respects.

Three-time London champion, Martin Lel, former world champion, Charles Kamathi who read the eulogy, last year's Rotterdam winner, Duncan Kibet, 2005 world champion, Benjamin Limo and retired 3000m world record holder, Daniel Komen were among the many present.

Wanjiru was given a 21 gun salute at the burial conducted in heavy rain. The late Olympic winner died on May 15 after a fall from his balcony.

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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