He may have just missed winning a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games, but Erick Barrondo’s name will still be forever etched in Guatemala’s history books.
The 21-year-old Guatemalan racewalker finished second in the men’s 20km race walk at the London Games on Saturday, giving his country its first-ever Olympic medal.
Following his race, Barrondo—whose parents were both middle distance runners—broke away from journalists’ questions to take a call from Guatemala’s president, Otto Perez Molina.
“The president congratulated me on the first Olympic medal for the country. He told me that everyone had come out on the streets to celebrate the triumph,” said Barrondo, who finished 11 seconds behind China’s Chen Ding. “It was a glorious day for me, but the glory is most of all for my country.”
In a day of firsts in London the race was won by Chen, who together with his third placed compatriot Wang Zhen were the first Chinese men to win an Olympic medal in a race walking event.
Barrondo, who finished 10th in last year’s 20km race walk final at the world championships in Daegu, worked hard to stay in contention among a Chinese and Russian dominated leading pack before breaking away to split China’s duo on the final stretch.