Olympic marathon champ Sammy Wanjiru has been charged with death threats to his wife and the illegal possession of an AK47 rifle in his native Kenya.
Wanjiru denied the accusations when he appeared before a court in his home town of Nyahururu, Kenyan television reported Thursday. The court was told that the 24-year-old athlete made the threats after an argument with his wife, Tereza Njeri, the previous night.
He was also charged with threatening to kill a domestic helper, and wounding a security guard. Prosecutors alleged that Wanjiru was drunk when he returned home before making the threats.
Wanjiru was held overnight in a police cell and released on bail, with the case set to be heard in full in February.
Wanjiru accomplished worldwide fame when he became Kenya's first Olympic marathon champion at the Beijing Games in 2008. At 21, he was the youngest gold medal winner at an Olympics since 1932.
After his Beijing triumph, Wanjiru has set about dominating the marathon distance, claiming 2 wins in Chicago and also winning the London marathon last year. It helped him to be crowned as the men's champion in the 2009 and 2010 world marathon majors’ series.
Wanjiru is also a twice world half marathon record holder and would be a favorite to defend his Olympic title in London in 2012.