San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Barrondo wins Guatemala's first ever Olympic medal, gives message of peace

LONDON – Erick Barrondo won Guatemala’s first ever medal in Olympic history with silver in the men’s 20 kilometers walk on Saturday and hoped his win would inspire youngsters back home to forgo violence for sport.

The 21-year-old, who finished behind China’s Chen Ding, said that if this brought a reduction in his impoverished country’s problems with gang violence it would be another victory.

“It is well known that Guatemala has problems with guns and knives,” Barrondo said.

“I hope that this medal inspires the kids at home to put down guns and knives and pick up a pair of trainers instead. If they do that, I will be the happiest guy in the world.”

Barrondo’s achievement prompted a phone call from Guatemalan 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.”

A recent New York Times article said race walking is flourishing in popularity in Latin America.

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