What you need to know:
- Cynthia Wanjiku specialised in 1,500m and 3,000m races in Japan.
- Her body has been lying at a morgue in Tenrei Kaikan, Japan, since her death.
The family of an athlete who died in Japan has been told to cough up Sh1.3 million hospital and mortuary fees in 15 days or the body will be cremated.
Nakuru-born Kenyan athlete Cynthia Wanjiku, 20, who was based in Japan, died on April 14 this year after a long unspecified illness that started in June 2022.
She specialised in 1,500m and 3,000m races in Japan.
Her body has been lying at a morgue in Tenrei Kaikan, Japan, since her death.
According to her Coach Victor Wachira, they are required to clear the JPY 1.28 million (about Sh1.3 million) bill in two weeks or she will be cremated. If that happens, the family will only receive her ashes.
Mr Wachira and other coaches and runners who train in Nyahururu are now appealing to the Kenyan government to help her family bring back the body to Bagaria in Njoro constituency, Nakuru County, since they cannot afford to pay the sum.
“They cannot raise that kind of money. Her parents have been told they have to make a commitment soon or the body will be cremated,” said Mr Wachira today at Nyahururu stadium.
Ms Beatrice Warindi, another coach, said that the time given to the family is too short to raise the money.
“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," said Ms Warindi.
Ms Wanjiku initially went to Japan as a university student before starting to race for a living.
“In January, we got concerned after the athlete failed to come home for the annual holiday like her colleagues who are also based in Japan,” Mr Francis Kamau, a coach with Esmi training camp, told Nation.Africa.
Ms Wanjiku, who was a member of the Hitachi Women’s Corporate team under coach Satoru Kitamura, was best known for her 8:49.72 meet record in the 2019 South Kyushu High School Championships 3000m at age 16.
She went on to win both the 1500m and 3000m at the National High School Championships that year, then won the 1500 m at the 2021 East Japan Corporate Championships, her first season with Hitachi.
Her best performance following that was a 9:01.66 for 3000m in April 2022.