Sandra Arenas on Sunday gave Colombia its first-ever gold medal in the 20-kilometer race walk, finishing the event at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, with a record time of 1:28:03.
The previous Pan American Games record in the event was 1:29:24 and belonged to Mexico’s Guadalupe Gonzalez, who was suspended for doping.
Gonzalez set her 20-kilometer race walk record at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.
The 25-year-old Arenas, who finished in fourth place at the Toronto Games, took control of the race at kilometer 16, breaking away from Brazil’s Erika Rocha de Sena, who was the pre-race favorite to win the event.
Peru’s Kimberley Garcia, the 2014 South American champion in the event, finished in second place, setting a national record with a time of 1:29:00.
Rocha de Sena took the bronze medal with a time of 1:30:34.
“My goal here was the gold, I wasn’t motivating myself to fight for another medal,” the 34-year-old Rocha de Sena, who is from the northeastern Brazilian city of Camaragibe, told EFE.
In response to a question about whether the bronze medal meant anything to her, Rocha de Sena expressed her feelings clearly.
“For Brazil, yes, a lot. For me as an athlete, no,” Rocha de Sena said.
Arenas, who turns 26 on Sept. 17, won the 2012 IAAF World Race Walking Cup in Saransk, Russia. EFE