Ecuador’s Rolando Saquipay provided the headlines at the 2014 South American Race Walking Championships in the Bolivian city of Cochabama this weekend (15/16) by winning the men’s 20km event and relegating Guatemala’s Olympic silver medallist Erick Barrondo to second place.
Saquipay, 34, the winner of this event in 2010 and the gold medallist at the 2005 Pan American Cup, boasts a PB of 1:19:21 but that dates from the latter event in Lima and Barrondo, competing as a guest, was very much the favourite in Cochabamba despite the event – which counts towards the 2014 IAAF Race Walking Challenge – being staged at 2558m altitude on Saturday.
Neverthless, the former training partner and friend of now-retired walking great Jefferson Perez had the speed in his legs over the final kilometres to pull away from his Central American rival and cross the line in 1:26:36, six seconds in front of Barrondo.
Seven athletes were in the leading group at halfway, which was reached in a modest 44:06 but across the next five kilometres Saquipay gradually edged away and at 15km, which was passed in 1:05:44, he was ahead of the chasing group by five seconds.
The multi-national chasing group now contained Barrondo, Marco Antonio Rodríguez of Bolivia, Pavel Chihuán of Peru, Mauricio Arteaga of Ecuador and Caio Bonfim of Brazil, but that was soon to split up as the tempo increased.
The final quarter of the race produced the fastest 5km split as Saquipay fought to hold off Barrondo.
Rodriguez grabbed the bronze in 1:27:16 to put a local runner on the podium. Bonfim, the 2013 South American champion on the track, was disqualified in the final part of the race.
Peru’s emerging talent Kimberley Garcia, still only 20, showed great form to beat the Bolivian duo of Claudia Balderrama and Wendy Cornejo in the women’s 20km race walk.
Garcia, the winner of the 2013 Pan American Cup and 34th at the 2013 IAAF World Championships, where she set a national record of 1:33:57, always controlled the race.
She clocked 24:16 at 5km, where she was at the front of a seven-woman group, and out on her own by 10km, which she passed in 48:01. At 15km, reached in 1:11:38, she was leading by 31 seconds from Balderrama.
The young Peruvian clocked 1:35:34 (47:33 for the second 10km) while Balderrama was second in 1:36:25 and Cornejo took the bronze medal in 1:37:11.
Winners of the rest of the events were: senior men’s 50km – Ronald Quispe (BOL) 4:25:02; junior men’s 10km – Brian Pintado (ECU) 43:46; junior women’s 10km – Karla Jaramillo (ECU) 49:22; boys' 10km – Pablo Rodríguez (BOL) 44:45; girls' 5km – Nathaly Leon (ECU) 26:05.
Eduardo Biscayart for the IAAF