Jefferson Leonardo Pérez Quezada (born July 1, 1974 in Cuenca) is a retired Ecuadorian race walker. He specialized in the 20 km event, in which he has won the only two medals his country has ever achieved in the Olympic Games.
Pérez in action
|Full name||Jefferson Leonardo Pérez Quezada|
|Born||July 1, 1974|
Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador
|Alma mater||University of Azuay|
|Height||1.67 m (5 ft 6 in)|
|Weight||60 kg (132 lb)|
|Retired||September 21, 2008 (age 34)|
|Achievements and titles|
|Olympic finals||1996 Summer Olympics|
2000 Summer Olympics
2004 Summer Olympics
2008 Summer Olympics
He won the gold medal at the 1996 Olympics, becoming the youngest-ever gold medal winner in the 20 km walk event. Following his win he embarked on a 459 km pilgrimage, walking, jogging and running from Quito's Franciscan cathedral to his hometown of Cuenca. In the 2008 Olympics he won the silver medal in the same competition at 34 years of age, before announcing his retirement from the sport.
Jefferson was born in El Vecino, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Cuenca, to Manuel Jesús Pérez and María Lucrecia Quezada. Like others in his neighborhood, his family was of limited economic means. He attended the elementary schools Eugenio Espejo and Gabriela Cevallos. Afterwards he entered the Francisco Febres Cordero high school, at the same time working to help out his family.
He entered race-walking by accident. To prepare for a walk that served as a high school physical education exam, he asked his brother Fabián to train for one week next to the group of athletes directed by trainer Luis Muñoz. Muñoz decided to invite him to compete in a race. With few weeks of preparation he won the race AID, winning the right of representing Ecuador in New York City and London as a sport ambassador.
Initially he participated in distance competitions of five kilometers. Later he had to make a radical decision, which was to dedicate himself completely to race walking. His first regional trophy in the 5K walk during the South American Pre-Junior championship held in his native city of Cuenca.
His first international achievement occurred when he won the bronze medal in the Junior World Cup of Athletics in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, in 1990.
Two years later, he won the Junior World title in Seoul, Korea, followed shortly by victories in South American and Pan-American open competitions. His crowning achievement in race-walking came with a gold medal at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996. He won a silver medal, his second medal, at the Beijing Olympic Games.
He also won the silver at the World Championships of Seville in 1999, and unprecedented golds at Paris in 2003, Helsinki in 2005, and Osaka in 2007 for his third straight world title, the only person that has been able to achieve that. In France he broke the world record and he received a financial bonus.
|10 km||38:24 min||Kraków||8 Jun 2002|
|20 km||1:17:21 hrs||Paris Saint-Denis||23 Aug 2003|
|50 km||3:53:04 hrs||Athens||27 Aug 2004|
|10,000 m||39:50.73 min||Winnipeg||15 Jul 1993|
|20,000 m||1:20:54.9 hrs (ht)||Cali||5 Jul 2008|
In popular cultureEdit
He appeared on Japanese TV show Hey! Spring of Trivia multiple times - in one episode, he tested how long it actually took to walk to a train station from an apartment advertised as "5 minutes away" (for him, it took under 2 minutes); in another, the show tested whether he would walk or run away when threatened (he ran).
- "True Olympians"
- "Ecuadorian walker Jefferson Perez trains alone for Beijing-2008", Xinhua, April 23, 2008.
- "Fernandez and Feitor take Murcia wins; Overall titles for Tallent & Plätzer – Race Walking Challenge Final". IAAF. 21 September 2008. Archived from the original on 22 September 2008. Retrieved 23 September 2008.
- Official website
- Jefferson Pérez at IAAF
- Jefferson Pérez at the International Olympic Committee
- Jefferson Pérez at Olympics at Sports-Reference.com (archive)
- Photos about his technique
- Biscayart, Eduardo (29 September 2008). "Jefferson Pérez, a true Champion, retires". IAAF. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
| Men's 20km Walk World Record Holder
August 23, 2003 – September 29, 2007