translated by Brett Larner
Management for Beijing Olympics men's marathon gold medalist Samuel Wanjiru (22, Kenya) announced on Nov. 11 that Wanjiru has signed a sponsorship deal with Meiji Seika, makers of the sports supplement Savas. The two parties signed a contract extending from Nov. 1 through Nov. 2009 but have an agreement for the company's sponsorship to continue until 2018, a period covering the 2016 Olympics, with a total value of USD $3 million over this ten year span. The sponsorship deal frees Wanjiru to focus on his goals of a world record in the marathon and a second Olympic gold medal. In return Wanjiru will wear the Savas logo on his uniform, an arrangement similar to Savas' sponsorship of Japan's top soccer team, the J1 League Urawa Reds.
Wanjiru graduated from Miyagi Prefecture's Sendai Ikuei High School and joined Team Toyota Kyushu is 2005. Just before this summer's Beijing Olympics he resigned from the team, saying he wanted to focus on the marathon. Since the Olympics he has split his time between training in Fukuoka and in Kenya.
Translator's note: Wanjiru's sponsorship deal is almost unprecedented in Japan, particularly for men, and may well have an impact on the structure of the jitsugyodan team system. Savas also looks to be banking upon Tokyo winning its 2016 Olympics bid and upon Wanjiru winning gold on home soil.