I met Sammy the first time in 2005, during Bruxelles meeting, when Kenenisa bettered his WR and I was there with Nicholas Kemboi. I was on the track, together with Jos Hermens, for giving the splits to the athletes, and I was really surprised to see this guy, for me unknown because it was for him the first time out of Japan, running the first half in 13'10" and after bettering the WJR with 26'41". From the beginning, all the coaches that saw the race understood he could be the greatest marathon runner.
After this, I went in touch with Isaac Macharia, that had great influence on the young Sammy. Macharia is a wonderful person, rich of personality, education and moralk values, and Sammy, till when was with him, had a very important and good guide and teacher.
In 2007, during WCh in Osaka, Sammy met me, for speaking about his future. He told me was tired to stay in Japan almost all the year, and asked me to help him in moving to full marathon, because his Japanese coach, Morishita, one of the best in the World, didn't have big experience about training in altitude.
I found a boy with a great heart, great motivation, and good discipline.
I helped him with some advice till the period of Beijing, sending some indication to Peter Mathu, that followed him and his Kenyan coach in Nyahururu.
After that period, I didn't have any contact with Sammy. Speaking with Macharia one time in Nairobi, he told me was a little worry about the new life of Sammy, because so much money pushed many people of Nyahururu to become "friends" of Sammy, really for abusing of his money and his heart. Sammy started to drink, and sometimes lost control in his actions.
He was always happy when could run. Never he feared anybody in any competitions, but at the same time was able to use his brain in the right way during every race, without trying something too fast for his value, or accepting tactical races, not good for his characteritics. His only defeat was from the best Martin Lel, that probably that day in London could attack the WR if wanted to push not looking for winning only. But after London Sammy was still able to grow, and his Olympic race was one of the most wonderful marathon of the athletic history.
I remember that, after the finish, when I asked him how it was possible running so fast in those weather conditions (I sweated standing in the shadow after 10' from the star), he told me "these are for me ideal conditions for running fast" : there were more than 30° and the humidity was, in some part of the race, higher than 80% !
So, we lost one of the greatest distance runners ever, and, in spite of his behavior during the last two years, a person that had a good heart.
Personally, I never can believe he wanted to suicide. Sammy was to full of life for having an idea like this.
But the reason cant change the reality.
The great Sammy is no more with us, and Athletics World is under shock, and of course who knew him personally is devastated in his mind and his heart.
RIP, Sammy. May be now finally you can run, what you liked, free from a crown of people abusing of you.