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Olympic champion Wanjiru charged with death threats

Sammy Wanjiru celebrates his success in the 2009 London marathon.
Sammy Wanjiru celebrates his success in the 2009 London marathon.
  • Olympic marathon champion Sammy Wanjiru faces death threat charges
  • Wanjiru appears before a court in Kenya after being arrested Wednesday night
  • Wanjiru also faces charges of illegally possessing an AK47 rifle
  • Wanjiru won the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games

(CNN) -- Olympic marathon champion Sammy Wanjiru has been charged in his native Kenya with death threats to his wife and the illegal possession of an AK47 rifle.

Wanjiru denied the charges 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.

The marathon champion 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, who was held overnight in a police cell, was released on bail, with the case set to be heard in full in February.

Wanjiru achieved world wide 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 two wins in Chicago and also winning the London marathon last year.

It helped him be crowned 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.