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Jefferson Perez, Ecuador

Jefferson Leonardo Pérez Quezada (born July 1, 1974 in Cuenca) is an Ecuadorian track and field athlete. He specializes in 20 km race walk.

His gold medal at the 1996 Olympics was the first Olympic medal ever for Ecuador.

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.

Pérez also had 4th place finishes in the 20 km walk at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

He will compete at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Good Luck Jeff!
01/11/2006. “I feel like the richest man in the world,” said Jefferson Perez, three-time world race walking champion, at the conclusion of the ceremony in which he received a Doctorate, Honoris Causa in Liberal Arts. The degree was awarded by the Universidad de Especialidades Espiritu Santo (UEES). That night in the square of the educational institution, located on the highway to Samborondon, the native of Cuenca became the first Ecuadorian sportsman to receive an honor of this type.

The following is Jefferson’s speech on the occasion of this award.


Day by day I see competition in different areas, where the most prepared academically (according to the criterion of some) can become famous personalities, moreover, receive awards from different public and private institutions, and I stop to reflect on where the greatness of knowledge really lies. Degrees, preparation or academic formation must be the necessary instruments for using the resources that mother earth provides us with in a more respectful way, so that the inhabitants of our country and our planet receive benefits without damaging the ecosystem.

I have read of those great thinkers, intellectuals and world leaders, who even after having achieved great success, have spoken about the need to find harmony with the elements of the planet (water, air, fire, land). Is this wisdom? Was it their degrees, ability or leadership that permitted them to acquire that wisdom? At this moment thousands of questions come to mind, and I remember each instant of my life, especially those early years when I lived a simple life without so many rules and standards of behavior. Nevertheless, I acquired respect, honor and integrity in the streets of my birthplace, values that I have put into practice since I was a child, thanks to the necessity of surviving the reverses of fortune that life brought me.

When asked how I recovered those values and principles that have permitted me to be a success, I confess that they are a part of me, a part of that person who learned from both the streets and university classrooms – in short, from life itself. Knowledge divorced from popular wisdom or academic formation, without investigating reality or becoming acquainted with it, is of little value. To quote the words of a great sportsman, “It’s not enough to have knowledge, one must know how to apply it.” It is then that degrees will have true value – the day we can apply our knowledge adequately to solve social, economic and political conflicts in the society in which we live.

Every time I hear persons speak of the greatness of human beings when they achieve “success” that is associated with money, fame or power, I tell them that “success” must be synonymous with creating, constructing or promoting those projects or ideas that increasingly allow the greatest numbers of persons to have opportunities to educate themselves, to have access to decent health – in short, to overcome those limitations that have made society unequal.

Can greatness perhaps originate from the surname one inherits or from economic, political or social position? I believe that greatness results from the impetus of our intentions and even more from our actions, while attempting to attain the most that humans can, without mattering so much where I am from, but more importantly where I want to go and what means I have to get there.

Every Ecuadorian man and woman must assume the responsibility and the challenge to achieve individual greatness, be it spiritual or emotional, for the benefit of humanity. For each negative event that occurs in our country, we must have the obligation, and above all, the capacity to find solutions. Only in this way will we know that we have the understanding to overcome negative events and construct a positive society of which we can feel proud.

The challenge to rethink and to organize our house, Ecuador, begins with the obligation of all citizens to recognize our diversity and to recognize that this is what constitutes our wealth. Let us overcome the barriers imposed by individualism and defensiveness in the great majority of the population, and in this way achieve excellence through a physical, mental and spiritual equilibrium, respecting nature as a great reserve for future generations.

Our nation must be powered by the work of everybody and for everybody, in a world that is very competitive, where day by day we seek those mechanisms that allow us to find the elements that aid the better prepared, without excluding the less favored, and achieve the equality and harmony that we desire.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.
Men's 20km Walk
Russia - Valeriy Borchin - 1:19:01 gold medal
Ecuador - Jefferson Perez - 1:19:15 silver medal
Australia - Jared Tallent bronze medal
Ecuador, 18/08/2008. Jefferson Perez is the best Ecuadorian athlete of all time, and he proved it yesterday with a silver medal in the Olympic Games in China, which we add to a gold medal in Atlanta in 1996 and two fourth places in the Games. In addition he has won ten world titles, making him an Ecuadorian national hero.

All of Ecuador resounded to the triumph of the athlete from Cuenca.

With his achievement, the country experienced an aftershock of joy, whose epicenter was Cuenca, Jefferson’s birthplace, where his family and admirers celebrated into the early hours of this morning.

With the simplicity that characterizes him, Perez gave thanks to God for the result, which he considered was an important one, given the limitations that Ecuadorian athletes have. A short time after the race ended, he became faint and passed out for more than five minutes, which caused widespread alarm among the Ecuadorian delegation. Tyrone Flores, the doctor who attended him, said it was the result of fatigue and dehydration.

Triumph in Beijing

In his last race before retirement, the mythical race walker performed another feat, second place at Beijing 2008.

His walk led him directly to becoming a legend. With a new Olympic medal at Beijing, he confirmed that he is the greatest Ecuadorian athlete of all time.

In the course of those 20 kilometers, Jefferson Perez Quezada demonstrated that since 12 years ago he has been one of the best race walkers on the planet, belonging to the elite, always among the giants of the event.

In a race won by Russian race walker Valeriy Borchin, Perez yesterday captured the silver medal in the 20 km event at the Beijing Olympics, increasing his legend in his farewell to competition.

Borchin won in a time of 1 hour, 19 minutes and 1 second, followed by Perez 14 seconds behind (1h19m15s), with the bronze medal going to the Australian, Jared Tallent (1h19m 42s).

At age 34, in the race that he had announced would be his farewell to track, Perez added a new international win to his list of distinguished triumphs, having been Olympic champion at Atlanta 96 and gold medalist at the world championships of Paris 2003, Helsinki 2005 and Osaka 2007.

After passing the 15 km mark, Borchin and Perez separated from the lead group, which included, among others, the Spaniard, Paquillo Fernandez and the Italian, Ivano Brugnetti. Borchin, second place at the European Championship of 2006, established a pace that Jefferson was unable to follow, forcing him to drop behind just two kilometers from the finish line.

The 22-year-old Borchin, suspended a year for doping in 2005, had the year’s third best time (1h17m55s).

This is the second international silver medal for Jefferson Perez, having also placed second at the world championship at Sevilla in 1999.

The race walker from Cuenca had to receive medical attention when he arrived at the tunnel leading to the changing rooms of Beijing stadium, where he was initially carried by stretcher due to a “muscle cramp,” according to Luis Zambrano, technical director of the Ecuadorian squad.

After being checked, Perez got up from the stretcher, appeared before the press for another 10 minutes, then due to fatigue, preferred not to make many statements.

Jefferson said that he became faint upon feeling a pain in his back. In a joking tone he added, “It was from talking too much; I hope you understand.

The mythical Ecuadorian sportsman also referred with feeling to his farewell to the Olympics. “It’s my second Olympic medal, and I thank God for having permitted me to be in five Olympic Games.

For his part, one of the favorites, Paquillo Fernandez of Spain, had to be content with his seventh place (1h20m32s) and may have lost his last opportunity to be Olympic champion.

Another of the favorites, Eder Sanchez of Mexico, finished the race in 15th place with a time of 1h21m53s.

Ecuador, 20/08/2008. The race walker’s idea is to take advantage of the process of preparation he had for the Olympics. Jefferson Perez bid good-bye to competing at the Olympic Games and World Championships; nevertheless, given his condition as an elite race walker, his retirement from competition will be gradual.

According to Dr. Marco Chango, physician to the Olympic double medal winner (gold and silver), Perez cannot abruptly stop his sports activity. By telephone to EL COMERCIO newspaper from Beijing, Jefferson’s physician said that his training will continue for another year.

Specialists are acquainted with the gradual unloading of training volume that Perez will undergo in the coming months.

At the end of this year, he will take part in a 10 km race in Italy and another race of 20 km in Spain. Both are personal invitations. The three-time world champion considers bettering his world record of 01:17:21 this year to be a feasible possibility.

Chango said, “With a couple of months of training, he is capable of regaining his conditioning and attempting any goal he proposes.” He will decide, however, when and where to compete, although not as an official representative of his country.

In his last two days in Beijing, Perez is recuperating by doing 50-minute regenerative workouts, including light muscular and abdominal strength training.

In addition he is consuming abundant quantities of fruits and carbohydrates, such as pastas and rice.

His physician said that Perez entered the competition weighing 60.5 kilos and finished at 58 kilos. “He lost three to four liters of liquid.” Furthermore, he has joint pains in almost his entire body, another result of the overload of competition.

After completely retiring from competition, Perez will have to slowly decrease his training volumes. For example, his former training load was 175 km a week. A recommended load, therefore, would be 160, then 150 km, decreasing from there.

This process will last at least one and a half years. After that he will concentrate on recreational activities for three years. Otherwise he could suffer complications. The Olympic silver medalist has a slight osteoarthritis in his left knee and a herniated disc in the lumbar area of his spine.

Referring to his functional, physiological and cardio-respiratory condition, Chango emphasized that Perez has the body of a 25-year-old athlete.

The physician said that the results will be known today of the doping control of Valeriy Borchin, the Russian athlete who won the 20km event. “He was penalized with a one-year suspension for doping, and so it’s hard to speak of fair play. These persons use every possible weapon in order to win.”

On the other hand, Perez is a 100% natural athlete. His purity has been established over 20 years.” Perez announced that he would leave Beijing tomorrow for the United States, although that could change. His multidisciplinary team will arrive in Ecuador the 28th of this month.

Source: El
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