Olympic marathon champion Wanjiru buried in Kenya

NYAHURURU, Kenya (AP) — Thousands of people attended the funeral of Olympic marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru on Saturday following weeks of legal wrangling amid an ongoing investigation into his death.

Triza Njeri, center, wife of the late Kenyan runner Sammy Wanjiri, controls her emotions as she prays before the coffin is loaded into funeral van at a funeral home in Nairobi, Kenya, on Saturday, June, 11, 2011. Wanjiru, who set a blistering pace to shatter the 24-year-old Olympic record in the marathon, died on May 15 in Nyahururu, Kenya. (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim)

Wanjiru’s funeral service was held at a stadium in Nyahururu, in Kenya’s Rift Valley. The first Kenyan to win gold in the marathon at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Wanjiru was given a 21-gun salute as his coffin was lowered into a grave at his farm.

A court finally ordered this week that Wanjiru could be buried despite the continuing investigation into the mysterious circumstances of his death following a domestic dispute.

The 24-year-old Wanjiru died May 15 after falling from a balcony at his apartment in Nyahururu. He had been found by his wife, Triza Njeri, with another woman at their home.

His death is still being investigated by Kenyan authorities after conflicting police reports over whether it was a suicide or an accident. Wanjiru’s mother obtained an initial court order preventing his burial until the investigation was concluded. She accused his wife of killing the runner to gain control of his property.

Track and field lost one of its brightest young stars. Wanjiru won five of his seven marathons and was the youngest runner to win four “major” marathons.

He won the 2007 Fukuoka Marathon on his marathon debut and claimed Kenya’s first Olympic marathon title a year later in an Olympic record time, breaking the 14-year-old mark.

He also won the London and Chicago marathons in 2009 and defended his Chicago crown in 2010.