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Japan in Wanjiru

photo © 2007 Dr. Helmut Winter
all rights reserved

by Brett Larner

Last week I was asked to write a dedication to the late Samuel Wanjiru for a forthcoming book on Kenyan distance running achievements.  Working on it, I felt that it's time to bring completion to another project related to Wanjiru.

In the weeks following Wanjiru's death, in response to my article "Wanjiru in the Words of Those Who Knew Him" I was contacted by someone claiming to be a Kenyan journalist proposing to work together on interviewing key people in Wanjiru's life for a feature article in a specific major publication, possibly leading to a book.  The person's credentials seemed to check out and, caring a great deal about the topic, I agreed.  Most of the people who knew Wanjiru best during his days in Japan were gracious enough to agree to interviews with me at a time when their grief was still fresh.  Being pressured to complete my interviews by a deadline I sent transcripts of the interviews for the other writer to read and abruptly stopped hearing from him.  Weeks went by without word, then months.  My periodic inquiries as to the status of the work on his end were met with one-sentence replies if at all.  I was very regrettably finally forced to withdraw my material from the project, which I still have no evidence even exists beyond my own work.

Re-reading the interviews last week as I thought about what I wanted to say in my book dedication I could see that here at the end of the year I have an obligation to the people close to Wanjiru who shared their grief with me to publish the transcripts.  Particularly towards his coach Koichi Morishita, parts of whose interview I still have difficulty reading.  Although they do not add up to the full picture I had hoped from the overall concept of the original project, I hope that reading them helps you as it has me to better understand some parts of what happened in the development, dissolution and tremendous loss of Samuel Wanjiru.

I will publish the interviews this week in the order I conducted them, followed by a conclusion.  The interviews are long but will reward time spent with them.

Tuesday: Stephen Mayaka, Wanjiru's friend and mentor during his days in Japan.
Wednesday: Koichi Morishita, Wanjiru's coach at Toyota Kyushu and the Barcelona Olympics marathon silver medalist.
Thursday: Yu Mitsuya and Masato Imai, Wanjiru's teammates at Toyota Kyushu.
Friday: Yasuto Kimura, Wanjiru's companion at overseas races following his departure from Japan.
Saturday: In conclusion..... (delayed until Monday)

I am indebted to Jonathan Beverley, Richard Finn, Yusuke Inoue, Daiji Kitamura and Mika Tokairin for their assistance in these interviews and to Imai, Kimura, Mayaka, Mitsuya, Morishita and Mary Wittenberg for their time and words.

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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