TOKYO, September 5 – Beijing Olympic marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru of Kenya vowed on Friday to go for a world record in the Berlin Marathon next year and retain his title at the 2012 London Games.
"I managed to win the gold medal with the patience which I have learned in Japan," the Japan-based 21-year-old told a news conference in Osaka.
"I want to aim for a world record in the Berlin Marathon next year. I want to be number one at any Olympics," he said in fluent Japanese.
Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie set a world record of 2hr 4min 26sec in the Berlin Marathon in September last year but skipped last month’s Beijing Olympic marathon citing health concerns over air pollution in the Chinese capital.
Wanjiru clocked 2:06.32 in Beijing, breaking the 24-year-old Olympic record set by Carlos Lopes, to become the first Kenyan to win the Olympic men’s marathon gold.
But he stopped short of his personal best of 2:05:24, which he set in the London Marathon in April.
Wanjiru came to marathon-mad Japan at the age of 15 to be enrolled at Sendai Ikuei, one of the private Japanese high schools which have cultivated athletically gifted students including those from African nations.
He was most recently employed by an affiliate of Toyota Motor Corp., which like many Japanese firms offers day jobs to Olympic athletes.
Wanjiru said he quit Toyota Motor Kyushu in July to run full-time, thanks to company sponsors in Japan and abroad.
"I want to thank all of you in Japan for supporting me. I will base myself in both Japan and Kenya," he said.