At age 24 after falling from a bedroom balcony at his home, Sammy Wanjiru, who in 2008 became the first Kenyan to win an Olympic gold medal in the marathon. Initial police statements were unclear on the circumstances of Wanjiru's death, in his hometown of Nyahururu, reporting that he either committed suicide or jumped from the 19-foot balcony to chase his wife after she discovered him with another woman. Though slowed by injuries and personal troubles this year, Wanjiru had already become the youngest runner to win four major marathons, held the fastest nonaided time ever recorded in an American race and was a favorite to repeat as Olympic champion in '12 following his Olympic record time of 2:06:32 in '08.
At age 24 of unknown causes, Michael Baze, who was attempting to revive a promising career as a jockey before his body was discovered outside of Churchill Downs on May 10. The latest in a family of prominent jockeys that includes his cousin, Russell Baze, a U.S. Racing Hall of Famer, Baze in 2007 became the youngest horseman since Bill Shoemaker in 1950 to win a title at Hollywood Park. But personal troubles of late—including a separation from his wife, depression, cocaine-possession charges and a failed Breathalyzer test at a race—stalled his ascent. Baze was scheduled to meet with his agent about finding a new mount when police found his body inside his idling Cadillac Escalade.