Here’s a Sonny Side of Sports salute for Sammy Wanjiru, the young Kenyan Olympic champion who successfully defended his Bank of America Chicago Marathon title 10 October.  In a thrilling finish, Wanjiru outsprinted Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede, the reigning London Marathon champion, clocking a winning time of two hours, six minutes and 24 seconds.

Wanjiru and Tsegaye exchanged the lead a few times in their sprint to the finish line, before the Kenyan broke away from the Ethiopian with a surge on a hill near the end of the course.

With his two consecutive victories in Chicago, his 2009 win in London, and his 2008 Olympic title in Beijing, the 23-year-old Wanjiru can rightly be described as the greatest marathon runner in the world today.  He earned $115,000 in prize money and bonuses in Chicago, and he will more than likely pocket another $500,000 as the winner of the 2009-2010 World Marathon Majors competition, a series that includes the Olympics, the world championships, and five big city marathons:  Chicago, New York, Boston, London and Berlin.

While Ethiopian star Haile Gebrselassie currently holds the world record (of 2:03:59) in the marathon, Sammy Wanjiru seems primed to break it in the near future.  Here’s video of Sammy setting the course record in Chicago in 2009: