After 21 years old Samuel Kamau Wanjiru won the Beijing Olympic marathon gold, I got this feeling this guy could be the next big thing in long distance running.
When you hit big success so early in life, you can either end up being a legend or implode. After looking at the life’s of other sportmens whose career turned tragic, I think the following obstacles stand between Samuel and greatness.
1) Gold Diggers
After Samuel won Gold, the Kenyan media were quick to do a story on his family. Now everyone is talking about his $300,000 mansion. Samuel is married with one kid but that won’t stop an over zealous woman. And Gold diggers are not just women, I remember Mike Tyson used to move around with hangers on and bodyguards and they did their best to help him blow up the estimated $300 million he earned in his short career
This could be the biggest obstacle. Samuel comes from the Kikuyu tribe, a tribe whose primary passion is making money. Investing your money is a wise thing but dabbling in a start up business can be a big distraction.
Catherine Ndereba at one time said how she opened a business on the side and she found her self spending more time supervising the business and less time training. In the end she closed shop.
3) Fatigue and Burnout
Everyone who follows marathon running knows a 21 year old top marathon runner is something rare in our sport. Am seeing more Kenyan runners barely out of their teens aiming for the marathon, part of the attraction is the big dollars in road racing. It’s simple economics; Big money attracts big talent!
Road running is very demanding on the body, it is the only sport activity where at the end of an event you have burned your calories to zero. Your heart rate reaches abnormal rates and your knees and ankles are subjected to bone breaking stress.
The irony of marathon running is that to be ready for a big event you have to train hard but it is the hard training that causes injuries. Look at Radcliffe, she got her injury while training for Beijing Olympics. Another casualty of hard training was Kenyan, Robert Cheruiyot, he was my favourite to win gold going to Beijing Olympics but he withdrew on the eve of the marathon citing injury
It was JFK who said “We should not pray for easier life but pray to be strong men!”
The obstacles are not going away, I can only wish the golden boy to be strong!