Jefferson Pérez

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Jefferson Pérez
Pérez in action
Personal information
Full name Jefferson Leonardo Pérez Quezada
Nickname(s) jeffi
Born (1974-07-01) July 1, 1974 (age 40)
Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador
Height 1.67 m (5 ft 6 in)
Weight 60 kg (130 lb)
Country  Ecuador
Sport Athletics
Event(s) Racewalking
Retired September 21, 2008 (age 34)
Achievements and titles
Olympic finals 1996 Summer Olympics
2000 Summer Olympics
2004 Summer Olympics
2008 Summer Olympics
This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Pérez and the second or maternal family name is Quezada.

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.

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.[1] 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.[2]

In the 2003 World Championships in Paris, France, Pérez also set the world best performance (as there are no world records in race walking) with 1:17:21 in the 20 km.

Pérez had fourth place finishes in the 20 km walk at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Personal life[edit]

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.

The beginnings[edit]

Jefferson with the Ecuadorian flag.

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 and London as a sport ambassador.

Initially he participated in distance competitions of five kilometres. 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.

Perez walked his final race at the World Race Walking Challenge final in Murcia, Spain. He finished third in that race and second in the overall challenge standings.[3]


Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  Ecuador
1988 South American Youth Championships Cuenca, Ecuador 1st 5 km 24:44.4 min A
1990 South American Youth Championships Lima, Perú 1st 5 km 19:49.54 min
1993 Bolivarian Games Cochabamba, Bolivia 1st 20 km 1:26:19 hrs A
1997 Bolivarian Games Arequipa, Perú 1st 20 km 1:27:54 hrs A
2001 Bolivarian Games Ambato, Ecuador 1st 20 km 1:30:27 hrs A
2005 Bolivarian Games Armenia, Colombia 2nd 20 km 1:24:22 hrs A


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Spain Paquillo Fernández
Men's 20km Walk World Record Holder
August 23, 2003 – September 29, 2007
Succeeded by
Russia Vladimir Kanaykin