Ecuadorian race walking star Jefferson Pérez, the 20Km World record holder and 2003 and 2005 World champion added a new title to his collection by winning the 20km event at the XIII edition of the Pan-American Race Walking Cup, which was celebrated on 21 and 22 April, at the beach resort of Camboriú, in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina.
Pérez, 32, won in 1:25:08, competing under tough conditions, in a temperature of over 30˚ C, with a race that started in the early hours of the afternoon. Colombian Gustavo José Restrepo finished in second place after a close battle that was decided by the margin of 1 second.
Pérez crossed the first 5Km in 21:38 with a group of 3 other walkers, Restrepo, fellow Colombian Luis Fernando López and Mexican Christian Berdeja. By the 10Km mark, passed in 43:20, two other Mexicans had joined the quartet: Eder Sánchez and Erick Guevara.
Between the 12th and 18th the 3 Mexicans left the leading group, and the race got decided in its closing stages. “I took the lead for an instant, but Pérez came back and beat me like a true champion”, said Restrepo.
“It was a tough competition. Entering the final 300m, I didn’t know if I would win. We prepare to compete under these conditions, and when we do succeed, it’s really rewarding”, declared Pérez.
This was Pérez’s second victory at the event, after taking it in 2003 in Chula Vista, the year he won at the World Championships in Paris, where he set the current World Record.
Pérez said he will skip the Pan-American Games that will take place in July in Rio, to concentrate on the defence of his World title in Osaka. “Two tough races in such a short time will be hard to take for me”, said the Ecuadorian.
Repeat by Cristina López
Salvadorean Cristina Esmeralda López was victorious in the women’s 20Km event. The 24-year-old also had a close battle with Ecuadorian Miriam Ramón, and succeeded in 1:39:21, over 1:39:42 of the South American.
López, the best Salvadorian athlete of the moment, was out of action for a while with a sciatic nerve problem. She is now gaining competitive form, but wasn’t expecting a victory.
Both walkers went together for much of the way, with splits of 24:45 at 5Km, and 49:22 and 49:23 at 10Km, and 1:14:17 and 1:14:18 at 15Km, always with López in control.
In the final 5Km, López pulled away several times, and for a while was able to build a nice cushion, but at the end a stronger Ramón made the race closer than it was expected.
Another Ecuadorian, Yadira Guamán completed the podium with a time of 1:41:08.
García takes the 50Km
Twenty-three year-old Mexican Álvaro García came up with the victory at the longest distance in the Olympic programme, with a 4:04:52 time. Colombian Freddy Hernández finished second in 4:05:16, while Ecuadorian Fausto Quinde ended third in 4:10:08.
García went by the 20Km mark in 1:39:43, and tried several time to get rid of Hernández. Yet he only could do that with 2Km to the end.
Making sure the Ecuadorian tradition in race-walking stays alive, Mauricio Arteaga (43:49) and Janeth Guamán (51:24) took the 10Km junior events.
XII Pan-American Race Walking Cup results
20Km (21 April)
1. Jefferson Perez (ECU) 1:25:08
2. Gustavo Restrepo (COL) 1:25:09
3. Luiz Fernando Lopez (COL) 1:25:25
1. Álvaro García (MEX) 4:04:52
2. Freddy Hernández (COL) 4:05:16
3. Fausto Quinde (ECU) 4:10:08
10Km Junior (21)
1. Mauricio Arteaga (ECU) 43:49
2. Yassir Cabrera (PAN) 44:19
3. Djaime de Oliveira (BRA) 44:27
1. Cristina Esmeralda López (ESA) 1:39:21
2. Miriam Ramón (ECU) 1:39.42
3. Yadira Guamán (ECU) 1:41:08
10Km Junior (22)
1. Janeth Guamán (ECU) 51:24
2. Leslie Guavita (COL) 51:32
3. Lauren Forgues (USA) 51:39
For complete results, please visit: http://www.cbat.org.br/competicoes/copa_pan_marcha/resultado.asp