Luis Fernando LÓPEZ

Athlete Profile

  • COUNTRY
    Colombia Colombia
  • DATE OF BIRTH
    03 JUN 1979
    ATHLETE'S IAAF CODE
    185242
Luis Fernando Lopez of Colombia celebrates winning bronze in the 20km race walk at the 2011 IAAF World Championships (Getty Images)

Outdoor

Discipline Performance Wind Place Date Records
100 Metres 10.62 +0.4 Mayagüez (PUR) 17 APR 2010
200 Metres 21.35 -0.1 Mayagüez (PUR) 17 APR 2010
5000 Metres Race Walk 22:02.43 Mayagüez (PUR) 16 APR 2010
10,000 Metres Race Walk 42:24.55 Bogotá (COL) 30 SEP 2015
10 Kilometres Race Walk 38:10 Beijing (CHN) 18 SEP 2010 ABP
20,000 Metres Race Walk 1:20:53.6h Lima (PER) 21 JUN 2009
20 Kilometres Race Walk 1:20:03 Berlin (GER) 15 AUG 2009
35 Kilometres Race Walk 2:42:05 Castilla la Nueva (COL) 04 MAR 2017
50 Kilometres Race Walk 3:51:35 Lima (PER) 13 MAY 2017
4x100 Metres Relay 40.25 Mayagüez (PUR) 17 APR 2010

Legend

* Not legal.

Latest Active Season: 2017

Outdoor

Discipline Performance Wind Place Date Records
20 Kilometres Race Walk 1:25:04 Rio Maior (POR) 01 APR 2017
35 Kilometres Race Walk 2:42:05 Castilla la Nueva (COL) 04 MAR 2017
50 Kilometres Race Walk 3:51:35 Lima (PER) 13 MAY 2017

Outdoor

100 Metres

Performance Wind Place Date
2010 10.62 +0.4 Mayagüez (PUR) 17 APR 2010
2008 10.72 -1.3 Ponce (PUR) 17 MAY 2008

Outdoor

200 Metres

Performance Wind Place Date
2010 21.35 -0.1 Mayagüez (PUR) 17 APR 2010

Outdoor

5000 Metres Race Walk

Performance Place Date
2010 22:02.43 Mayagüez (PUR) 16 APR 2010

Outdoor

10,000 Metres Race Walk

Performance Place Date
2015 42:24.55 Bogotá (COL) 30 SEP 2015

Outdoor

10 Kilometres Race Walk

Performance Place Date
2013 42:22 Castilla la Nueva (COL) 17 MAR 2013
2011 41:08 La Coruna (ESP) 17 SEP 2011
2010 38:10 Beijing (CHN) 18 SEP 2010
2004 42:01 Bogotá (COL) 13 JUN 2004
2003 40:34 Catania (ITA) 06 DEC 2003

Outdoor

20 Kilometres Race Walk

Performance Place Date
2017 1:25:04 Rio Maior (POR) 01 APR 2017
2016 1:21:32 Poděbrady (CZE) 09 APR 2016
2015 1:28:09 Rio Maior (POR) 18 APR 2015
2014 1:26:07 Chihuahua (MEX) 22 FEB 2014
2013 1:21:51 La Coruna (ESP) 01 JUN 2013
2012 1:23:41 La Coruna (ESP) 09 JUN 2012
2011 1:20:03 Bogotá (COL) 12 FEB 2011
2010 1:21:12 La Coruna (ESP) 19 JUN 2010
2009 1:20:03 Berlin (GER) 15 AUG 2009
2008 1:20:59 Beijing (CHN) 16 AUG 2008
2007 1:24:22 Medellín (COL) 05 MAY 2007
2006 1:24:20 Cartagena de Indias (COL) 25 JUL 2006
2005 1:20:26 Lima (PER) 07 MAY 2005
2004 1:22:52 Los Angeles (CHI) 03 APR 2004
2003 1:25:09 Tijuana (MEX) 09 MAR 2003

Outdoor

35 Kilometres Race Walk

Performance Place Date
2017 2:42:05 Castilla la Nueva (COL) 04 MAR 2017
2015 2:43:43 Bogotá (COL) 28 MAR 2015
2014 2:47:15 Bogotá (COL) 25 JAN 2014

Outdoor

50 Kilometres Race Walk

Performance Place Date
2017 3:51:35 Lima (PER) 13 MAY 2017
2015 3:55:43 Beijing (CHN) 29 AUG 2015
2014 4:05:14 Taicang (CHN) 03 MAY 2014

Outdoor

4x100 Metres Relay

Performance Place Date
2010 40.25 Mayagüez (PUR) 17 APR 2010

Honours - World Championships

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
1. 20 Kilometres Race Walk 1:20:38 Daegu (KOR) 28 AUG 2011
4. 20 Kilometres Race Walk 1:20:03 Berlin (GER) 15 AUG 2009

Honours - World Race Walking Cup

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
4. 20 Kilometres Race Walk 1:23:11 Chihuahua (MEX) 16 MAY 2010

Honours - South American Championships

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
1. 20,000 Metres Race Walk 1:20:53.6h Lima (PER) 21 JUN 2009
3. 20 Kilometres Race Walk 1:23:44 Cali (COL) 22 JUL 2005

Honours - Pan American Games

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
3. 20 Kilometres Race Walk 1:22:51 Guadalajara (MEX) 23 OCT 2011
4. 20 Kilometres Race Walk 1:27:32 Santo Domingo (DOM) 05 AUG 2003

Honours - IAAF Race Walking Challenge Final

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
5. 10 Kilometres Race Walk 38:10 Beijing (CHN) 18 SEP 2010

Honours - South American Race Walking Championships

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
1. 20 Kilometres Race Walk 1:24:38 Cuenca (ECU) 15 MAR 2008
2. 20 Kilometres Race Walk 1:27:16 Cochabamba (BOL) 09 APR 2006
2. 20 Kilometres Race Walk 1:22:52 Los Angeles (CHI) 03 APR 2004

Honours - Pan American Race Walking Championships

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
1. 20 Kilometres Race Walk 1:22:18 San Salvador (ESA) 01 MAY 2009
2. 50 Kilometres Race Walk 3:51:35 Lima (PER) 13 MAY 2017
2. 20 Kilometres Race Walk 1:20:26 Lima (PER) 07 MAY 2005
3. 20 Kilometres Race Walk 1:25:25 Santa Caterina (BRA) 21 APR 2007

Honours - CAC Games

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
1. 20 Kilometres Race Walk 1:24:20 Cartagena de Indias (COL) 25 JUL 2006

Honours - National Championships

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
1. 20 Kilometres Race Walk 1:25:21 Pasto (COL) 05 APR 2009
1. 20 Kilometres Race Walk 1:24:22 Medellín (COL) 05 MAY 2007
1. 20 Kilometres Race Walk 1:25:34 Narino (COL) 05 MAR 2006
1. 20 Kilometres Race Walk 1:25:01 Moniquirá (COL) 24 APR 2005
Results in:

20 Kilometres Race Walk

Date Competition Cnt. Cat Race Pl. Result
01 APR 2017 Rio Maior Grande Prémio Internacional em Marcha Atlética PORPOR GL F 11. 1:25:04

35 Kilometres Race Walk

Date Competition Cnt. Cat Race Pl. Result
04 MAR 2017 Castilla La Nueva COLCOL F F 1. 2:42:05

50 Kilometres Race Walk

Date Competition Cnt. Cat Race Pl. Result
13 MAY 2017 Lima Pan-American Race Walking Cup PERPER A F 2. 3:51:35
13 AUG 2017 London IAAF World Championships in Athletics GBRGBR OW F DNF


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Updated 27 July 2012

Luis Fernando LÓPEZ, Colombia

(20km Race Walk)  

Born: 3 June 1979 Pasto, Nariño

1.73m, 60kg

Coach: Luis Fernando Rozo

Club: Liga Atlética de las Fuerzas Armadas (Armed Forces)

 

Born in Pasto, capital of the southernmost Colombian state of Nariño, López was introduced to athletics by his father, a former race walker, at the age of 11. His uncle, Marcelino Pastrana, a former national 800m champion, later took over as a coach.

“One day, they took me to a school race and they discovered in me a good aptitude for athletics, but I wanted to be a goal keeper. Argentina’s Julio Cesar Falcioni was my idol. I am an America de Cali fan. When I had my first bike, I wanted to be like 1986 Tour of Spain winner, Luis Lucho Herrera. I grew up admiring these athletes,” he recalled.

 

“But my dad insisted on athletics. On a Friday morning, He and my uncle took me to La Libertad stadium in Pasto, to a clay track. They gave me some race walking tips on the eve of a regional competition for 11-13 year olds. I won the race the following day.” His career had begun.

At the early age of 16, he enjoyed his first international success when finishing second at the 1995 South American Race Walking Cup.

Still a junior, he collected more honours in 1998, at the South American Race Walking Cup and the South American Junior Championships in Cordoba, Argentina.

With limited support to sports in his region, the then 19-year old met Luis Fernando Rozo, who encouraged him to join the Police in 1998. “My only goal was to make the national high performance team. I just wanted to become the best in my country,” he remembered.

López worked in the anti-narcotics division in the south of the country before joining the Police High Performance team in Bogotá, under the guidance of his coach Rozo.

Juggling training and his commitments with the Police, it took some time before López began to blossom again internationally.

In 2003, he improved his personal best by nearly a minute and a half at the inaugural IAAF Race Walking Challenge in Tijuana, Mexico and finished fourth at the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo to round up his 2003 season.

A second placing at the South American Race Walking Cup in Chile with a personal best of 1:22:52 secured him a place in the Colombian team for the Olympic Games in Athens.

“My dream started to grow. It is a tradition in my family to watch the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. I dreamed to competing at the Olympics and made it to Athens 2004.” He finished 24th in the Greek capital.

Progress continued the following year as López lowered his personal best to a respectable 1:20:26 at the Pan American Cup in Lima and finished 12th at his World Championships debut in Helsinki.

The highlight of his 2006 season was his first podium at an IAAF Race Walking Challenge event and becoming the first non Mexican to win the 20km walk gold medal in the history of the Central American and Caribbean Games. He was disqualified at his World Cup debut in La Coruna.

After a low par 2007, López made a breakthrough with his ninth placing at the Olympic Games in Beijing. “I realized I could win a big medal for my country. I prepared with that in mind. A person from Pasto, if given the opportunity, can achieve great things.”

From then on, the young Colombian has continued to move up in the very competitive world of race walking.

He opened 2009 with another Race Walking Challenge podium in Mexico and sealed a great season with a fifth place at the World Championships in Berlin, breaking Querubín Moreno’s 22-year old national record with 1:20:03.

“The competition started at 15km and I went regressively, could not hold on but realized I could beat the world’s best,” he said of his Berlin experience.

He also added the Americas Cup and Bolivarian Games titles that year, as well as the South American gold, setting a personal best over 20,000m (1:20:53.6) and breaking Ecuador’s three-time world and Olympic champion Jefferson Perez’s championships record.

A year later, López confirmed his performance in Berlin was not a fluke by finishing fourth at the World Cup, in Chihuahua, and set the South American 10km record (38:10) at the IAAF Race Walking Challenge in Beijing.

In 2011, he started with another Race Walking Challenge podium in Mexico and took the Pan American Cup on home soil, but had to continue training despite a groin injury.

He arrived in Daegu ranked far from the world’s best. Coming to the Korean city, he showed a modest season’s best of 1:21:53 but fought in every one of the 10 laps to claim Colombia’s first every World Championships medal – an achievement which would be equalled the next day by triple jumper Caterine Ibargüen.

 “I had learned the lessons from Berlin and Chihuahua. It was the other way around in Korea. I had to stay focused and I could only celebrate the medal once I had crossed the finish line. My mom died when I was 3, but I felt her today as I stepped on the podium,” an elated López commented on his historic performance.

The feat earned him a hero’s welcome back home, from his colleagues in the Police, the officials and the press. In fact, even Ximena Restrepo, who took the bronze at the Olympic Games in Barcelona 1992, was not able to earn a medal at the World Championships: her best result was fifth in Stuttgart 1993.

López had to overcome several challenges in the lead-up to Daegu. “I developed a chronic injury, which slowed me greatly in training and put the whole season in jeopardy,” he remembered.

But working together with his psychologist (Rafael Savarain), he endured the pain and found the mental strength to succeed. “Credit also goes to my masseur Carolina Caicedo, and physical conditioner Jorge Guerra, Doctor Maurico Serrato and my coach.”

“The medal in Korea is the result of over 20 years of hard work, and dreaming as a child. I always dreamed of becoming a great sportsperson and I seized the opportunities provided by the National Police, Coldeportes (the Sports Ministry) and the National Athletics Federation,” he reflected on his feat.

He also had a message to Colombian youth: “You need to set goals in your life and be able to dream awake, to have discipline and to make lots of sacrifices, but sooner or later, this effort will pay off. It is a decision you make, saying NO to drugs and choosing a healthier life through sports.”

López ended his season with a bronze medal at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara.

He believes there are talented race walkers in Colombia to continue a successful path initiated in the 1980’s by the Moreno brothers (especially Querubín and Héctor).

At the 2010 World Cup, in Chihuahua, Eider Arevalo became World Junior Champion. At the 2011 World Youth Championships, Manuel Soto crossed the finish line first, but was disqualified. Kenny Perez won silver. “They were inspired by my words to achieve such magnificent results. But they also added pressure on me, as they led their respective races. I couldn’t disappoint them in Daegu and I didn’t. We showed we are good because we are Colombian,” he added. 

López admits his upbringing has led him to love sport.

“My dad taught me to admire Colombian athletes, to be passionate about our sport. I recall watching cyclists Lucho Herrera, Alvaro Mejia and Fabio Parra battling at the Tour de France. I would go to bed watching our best boxers. I watched live the Olympic medals won by boxer Eliecer Julio in 1988 and 400m runner Ximena Restrepo in 1992.”

“I cried, as I did in Daegu, when I saw her winning the bronze medal. I did not know destiny will take me to be a World medallist,” he added.

“I admire my dad the most because he taught me who to admire, who to look up to. He is very much involved in athletics. Thanks to him, I am a persevering walker. I always fight to the end. Although we come from the developing world, we can show we can be at par with the world’s best,” he continued.

Race walking seems to be very much alive in his family. Apart from his 29-year old sister, he has a 12-year old brother, Andrés Felipe, who has started walking. He hopes his 2-year old nephew, Juan, will follow in his footsteps.

The beginning of 2012 was marked by a tragic event for the Daegu bronze medallist – the death of his coach, professor Luis Fernando Rozo, whose passing away was marked by a strange coincidence:  Lopez’s mother, Dora Yolanda, had also passed away on a 21 January, in 1993. 

After the tragedy, Luis Fernando himself became the head of the group, which consists of some 20 young talents of which at least 10 are walkers.

His first coach, Marcelino Pastrana, took over from Rozo and with the assistance of Enrique Peña, former coach of Ecuador’s multi-medallist Jefferson Pérez, is guiding the steps of López to achieve his dream of an Olympic medal.

“My focus remains on the goal we set out to achieve one day. It is never easy to forget someone who made a positive difference in my life. I keep the good memories as he would have liked to,” said Lopez, who follows the same methodology as in the past four years.

Lopez is very confident about his chances in London despite a low-par performance at the World Cup (51st) in May. He improved to 1:23:41 for ninth at the IAAF Race Walking Challenge event in La Coruña a month later. Lopez completed his tune-up training in the southwestern Colombian city of Cali.

“It is all or nothing in London on 4 August. The Olympic race will be at 11:30am Colombian time. I am taking this day as if it were the last day of my sporting life to I will give it all. Saransk and La Coruña were preparatory competitions which helped me fine-tune my training for the Games. My training started in February. It’s been difficult, but I am now on the right track and nothing is impossible with God’s help,” he commented on his aspirations in the British capital.

In his third Games, the 33-year old will lead a full Colombian team of three men and three women in the 20km walk in the British capital. The squad features 2011 Pan American Games silver medallist James Rendón and World Junior champion Eider Arévalo, who trains with him.

“These Games are different. I realised my dream in 2004 and in 2008 I lacked ambition and decision at the right time during the race. I knew what I wanted, but was not convinced I could make it. Now in 2012 I have this very unique chance and I don’t want to let it go. I want to be part of my country’s history and that’s what motivates me the most when facing tough challenges like World Championships and Olympic Games,” he added.

As he recovered from his injury sustained in 2011, Lopez married Adriana Milena Giraldo from Medellin - whom he met in the Colombian team for the 1998 South American Junior Championships - in December 2011. They have a daughter, Salome, born 13 June 2012. “She has become my N.1 inspiration in every step of my training.”

In his limited free time, López enjoys resting and spending time with Adriana. “She takes me out to movies.”

López has now been in the Police for 14 years, and his best friend is also a member. His name is Yermaín Marulanda, and he abandoned cigarettes for jogging sessions with Lopez since 1999, when they were together in the anti-narcotics group.

His favourite dishes are Rice and chicken, “mazamorra”, a corn-base dessert, as well as his grandmother’s pasta soup.

López studied civil engineering for 12 months at the University of Nariño and finished his studies as public accountant at the San Martin University in Bogotá.

 

Personal Bests

5000m - 19:50.41A (2011) 10,000m- 40:33.87 (2003), 10km-38:10 (2010) 

20,000m- 1:20:53.6 (2009), 20km- 1:20:03 (2009)

 

Yearly Progression

2001-1:26:31A, 2002-1:26:47.6t, 2003-1:25:09, 2004-1:22:52, 2005-1:20:26A, 2006-1:24:11, 2007-1:24:22.7t, 2008-1:20:59, 2009-1:20:03, 2010-1:21:12, 2011-1:20:38, 2012-1:23:41

Career Highlights

1995  2nd    South American Race Walking Cup (5km youth)

1998   3rd    South American Race Walking Cup (10km junior)

1998  2nd   South American Junior Championships

2003  9th   Pan American Walking Cup

2003  4th    Pan American Games

2004  2nd    Pan American Race Walking Cup

2005  2nd    Pan American Race Walking Cup

2005  3rd      South American Championships

2005  12th    World Championships

2005  4th     Bolivarian Games

2006  2nd    South American Race Walking Cup

2006  1st    Central American and Caribbean Games

2007  3rd    Pan American Race Walking Cup

2008  1st       South American Race Walking Cup

2008  9th     Olympic Games

2009  1st    Pan American Race Walking Cup

2009  1st    South American Championships

2009  5th     World Championships

2009  1st    Bolivarian Games

2010  5th     IAAF Race Walking World Cup

2010  2nd    Central American and Caribbean Games

2010  4th   IAAF Race Walking Challenge

2011  1st    Pan American Race Walking Cup

2011  3rd   World Championships

2011  9th   IAAF Race Walking Challenge

2011  3rd   Pan American Championships

2012  51st   IAAF Race Walking World Cup

Prepared by Javier Clavelo and Julio César Sandoval for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. ©  IAAF 2012

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