sam is big in japan

TOKYO - Japanese fans and media yesterday celebrated the Olympic marathon victory of adopted son Samuel Wanjiru, a Kenyan who lives in Japan, after the country's own athletes failed to meet expectations.

TOKYO - Japanese fans and media yesterday celebrated the Olympic marathon victory of adopted son Samuel Wanjiru, a Kenyan who lives in Japan, after the country's own athletes failed to meet expectations.

Wanjiru moved to Japan at the age of 15 as one of a number of athletically gifted African students recruited by elite Japanese private high schools.

"I am extremely happy that he overwhelmed the others to win the race," said Takao Watanabe, who was Wanjiru's coach at his high school in the northern city of Sendai.

"I knew he would win because he remained patient and maintained control on when to use his stamina," he said.

The victory of the Kenyan, who was awarded the gold during Sunday's gala closing ceremony in Beijing, offered some level of consolation to marathon-loving Japan, whose own runners failed to shine.

"Japan-grown Wanjiru takes gold," said a front-page headline of the Sankei Shimbun, one of many major newspapers that ran similar headlines. "Wanjiru gets gold with Japanese spirit of 'self-controlled patience'," said a Nikkan Sports headline.

Wanjiru, now 21, continues to live and train in Japan.

He was most recently employed by an affiliate of Toyota Motor Corporation.

Wanjiru, who speaks fluent Japanese, said he won the gold by using the spirit of patience.

"What I learned in Japan was patience. I think I was patient today," he told Japanese reporters after the race. - Sapa-AFP

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