Colombia can boast of an Olympic medal in athletics speed events, an achievement within the reach of few countries. The charismatic Anthony Zambrano, who arrived in Tokyo as world runner-up, was confirmed this Thursday as a rising star by also hanging the silver in the 400 meters, the complete lap of the track that carries so much prestige, behind the Bahamian Steven Gardiner .
Gardiner, the current world champion, crossed the Olympic Stadium track in 43.85 seconds, while Zambrano accelerated in the final part, true to his reputation as an explosive finisher, to overcome rivals and cross the finish line in 44.08, ahead of the Kirani James from Granada, who watched with concern, helpless, as he passed him in the last meters. Connoisseurs appreciate the sustained effort required by the 400 meters, as they combine the 100-meter blast with the longer-distance strategy.
“This tastes like gold to me because it is a very long road, winding and with many things,” reacted the sprinter who excited his country and dedicated the victory to his mother, Miladis Zambrano, who was on her birthday. “Silver that tastes like pure gold full of blessings and love,” she agreed in the celebrations that the Colombian press covered from her home in Soledad, part of the Barranquilla metropolitan area. “I am still a model for the new generation,” claimed the athlete, who had turned the Olympic podium into an obsession.
Zambrano (Maicao, 23 years old) has endorsed the good omens that preceded him as Colombia’s best card at the Olympic Games. He was runner-up at the 2019 Doha World Cup, the same year he won the Pan-American gold, and in the qualifying phases he wasted authority. In the semifinal, in particular, he broke the South American record with 43.93 seconds, the second fastest time of all competitors in that phase, behind James from Granada.
“Getting to an Olympic final has been a very tough road. A journey full of curves, thorns and pain. But also a journey where I discovered that, with faith, determination and resilience, one can always get the best version of himself “, he had written at the time on his social networks, as he had not attended the press to concentrate on his preparation.
Zambrano was born in 1998 in Maicao, in the desert department of La Guajira, bordering Venezuela, one of the poorest and most forgotten in Colombia. Luis Díaz, the great figure of the Colombian soccer team in the recent Copa América in Brazil and revelation of the tournament, is also from where he is born. Of very humble origin, he grew up without his father in Barranquilla, the great city of the Caribbean, where he worked as a mechanic, painter, bricklayer and bicycle taxi driver to earn a living, as he has proudly told. “Whenever I go out for a run I think about where I am from, where I come from, how I got to this,” he told the organization of the Games.
That of the guajiro sprinter is the fourth medal in athletics that Colombia has added in its Olympic history, and the first of a man. Another August 5, exactly 29 years ago, when Zambrano had not been born, Ximena Restrepo led the way, by getting bronze in the 400 meters of the Barcelona jousts. Later, triple jumper Catherine Ibargüen, who at 37 announced that Tokyo was her last participation in the games, achieved silver in London 2012 and gold in Rio 2016.
It is also Colombia’s fourth medal in Tokyo, half of those it added five years ago in Brazil. Mariana Pajón, the two-time BMX world queen who won the London and Rio de Janeiro Olympics, won silver at the Ariake Urban Park to become the most awarded athlete in her country. On the same track, the also bicicrosista Carlos Alberto Ramírez repeated the bronze of the previous jousts, days after the weightlifter Luis Javier Mosquera obtained in the 67 kilogram category the first silver of the medal table. Zambrano still has to compete with the 4 x 400 relay team with Alejandro Perlaza, Diego Palomeque and Alexander Solis, the last chance to add metals for the Colombian delegation.
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