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Kenyan Marathon Champ Wanjiru Dies in Fall

Gold medallist Samuel Kamau Wanjiru of Kenya (C), silver medallist Jaouad Gharib of Morocco (L) and bronze medallist Tsegay Kebede of Ethiopia pose for victory ceremony at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games (File Photo - August 24, 2008)

Police in Kenya say Olympic marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru has died after jumping off the balcony of his home during a domestic dispute.

Police say it appears the 24-year-old runner jumped in an attempt to stop his wife from leaving the house after she discovered him with another woman.

Regional police chief Jaspher Ombati said Wanjiru landed on a hard surface and sustained fatal injuries.

The dispute took place Sunday night in the Rift Valley town of Nyahururu, about 150 kilometers north of Nairobi. Wanjiru's wife, Triza Njeri, and his female companion were both questioned by police and then released.

Wanjiru set an Olympic record in 2008 to become the first Kenyan to win a marathon gold medal. He also won the London Marathon in 2009, and is a two-time winner of the Chicago Marathon.

But friends and colleagues say he was stressed by personal problems and had recently taken to heavy drinking.

Wanjiru was set to go before a court next week to face charges of possessing an illegal firearm.

In December, he was charged with threatening to kill his wife. Those charges were later dropped.

Ethiopian running great Haile Gebrselassie said on Twitter he was "totally shocked" to hear about Wanjiru's death.

And in a statement Monday, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Wanjiru's death is a "big blow" to the country's dreams in next year's Olympics in London.