Shock continues in the athletics world three days after the murder of Alex Quiñonez, the best sprinter in the history of Ecuador

The death of the Lima 2019 Games champion occurred hours before the burial of Kenya’s promising Olympic athlete, Agnes Tirop, victim of another crime.

Alex Quiñónez
Alex Quiñónez

The world of athletics had not yet recovered from the shock of the murder of Kenyan runner Agnes Tirop when one of the best sprinters in the Americas, Alex Quiñónez, was shot dead in the middle of the street in Ecuador.

Quiñónez, 32, made history in 2012 when he qualified for the 200m final at the London Olympics, where he finished seventh. The event was won by the legendary Usain Bolt.

In 2019, the Ecuadorian sprinter confirmed his great international quality by winning the gold medal at the Pan American Games in Lima and the bronze medal at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar, behind American Noah Lyles and Canadian Andre De Grasse.

Quiñonez was killed just hours before more than a thousand mourners gathered in Nandi County, Kenya, to pay their last respects to Olympic athlete Agnes Tirop, who was stabbed to death in her home on October 13.

Her funeral was held on what would have been her 26th birthday. Tirop was born on October 23. She was baptized on October 23 and buried on October 23.

Tirop broke the 10-kilometer world record in Germany last month. She won bronze medals at the 2017 and 2019 World Championships in the 10 000 meters.

The Kenyan leg of the World Athletics Cross Country Tour in February next year will be named after Agnes Tirop, National Athletics Federation president Jack Tuwei announced during the funeral, according to local newspaper Nation.

The coffin of long-distance runner Agnes Tirop is seen during her funeral service at Kapnyamisa village, Nandi county, Kenya October 23, 2021. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi
The coffin of long-distance runner Agnes Tirop is seen during her funeral service at Kapnyamisa village, Nandi county, Kenya October 23, 2021. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi

The day after Tirop’s funeral, Quiñonez, who also held numerous titles in South American, Ibero-American and Bolivarian competitions, was buried.

His funeral ceremony at the “Folke Anderson” stadium in Esmeraldas, his hometown, was attended by thousands of people.

On Tuesday, Ecuadorian television reported “significant progress” in the investigations, but no arrests so far, three days after the tragic event in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s second most populated city after Quito, the capital.

According to the authorities, the vehicle used in the aggression had been located and six raids were carried out.

According to official information, Quiñonez left his house to buy food at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, October 22, and in the street he met acquaintances and friends with whom he stayed talking. Two hours later the assassins arrived in a car and shot the sportsman seven times, most of them in the head, and another person fifteen times.

“The double crime remains under preliminary investigation, so the police avoided talking about possible hypotheses,” said the television news program.

Quiñonez could not compete in the Tokyo Olympics because of a “whereabouts failure” under anti-doping rules that led the Athletics Integrity Unit (IAU) to suspend him. The sprinter unsuccessfully appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Quiñonez then released a video on social networks in which he assured that it was “an involuntary and fortuitous error” in the update of the location data uploaded to the Adams platform by the person to whom he delegated such work.

According to a review on the World Athletics website, “the case has not been concluded”.

Both World Athletics and the IAU publicly expressed their condolences for the death of the brilliant sprinter, as well as the main authorities of Ecuador and important athletics figures from inside and outside the Andean nation.

Futbol Club Barcelona observed a minute’s silence in honor of Quiñonez as he had been a member of its athletics team for three years.

The murder of Quiñónez, considered the most important sprinter in the history of Ecuador, comes at a time when violence is reaching dramatic figures in that country.

Between January and October of this year, almost 1900 homicides were registered, compared to around 1400 in the whole of 2020, according to the government.

The nation’s president, Guillermo Lasso, has declared a state of emergency and ordered the mobilization of police and military in the streets, with Guayaquil as the most affected city.