Kenyan Athlete dies in Japan, Family told to pay Sh1.3m or body will be cremated

April 27, 2023

The family of an athlete who died in Japan is in a race against time to raise Sh1.3 million or the body of the deceased will be cremated.

Cynthia Wanjiku, 20, a Nakuru-born athlete who was based in Japan, died on April 14 this year following a long battle with an unspecified illness that started in June 2022.

Her remains have been lying at a morgue in Tenrei Kaikan, Japan, with her family required to clear JPY 165,000 (about Sh1.3 million) of hospital and mortuary bills in two weeks.

Wanjiku’s coach Victor Wachira said failure to settle the bill means the family will only receive her ashes.

“The family cannot raise that kind of money. Her parents have been told they have to make a commitment soon or the body will be cremated,” Wachira told Nation.

Wachira and other coaches and athletes who train in Nyahururu are now pleading with the Kenyan government to assist in bringing the body back to Bagaria in Njoro constituency.

Beatrice Warindi, a different coach, added: “We have only managed to raise some amount (Sh200,000) through fundraisers by various athletes and coaches but it is not enough. This is why we are calling on the Kenyan government to work with Japan and see how she can be repatriated.”

Ms Wanjiku specialised in 1,500m and 3,000m races in Japan. She first went to Japan as a university student before she pursued a career in athletics.

She was a member of the Hitachi Women’s Corporate team under coach Satoru Kitamura. The athlete was best remembered for her 8:49.72 record in the 2019 South Kyushu High School Championships 3000m at age 16.

Wanjiku also won the 1500 m and the 3000 m at the National High School Championships that year, and in 2021, during her first season with Hitachi, she won the 1500 m at the East Japan Corporate Championships.

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