Sprinter Alex Quiñónez has been killed in his home country of Ecuador. The 32-year-old, who finished third in the 200m at the World Athletics Championships in Doha two years ago, was reportedly shot dead outside a shopping centre in the port city of Guayaquil on Friday night, along with another unnamed person.
The Ecuadorian sports ministry announced the news in a statement on its Twitter feed, saying: “Today we lost a great athlete, a person who made us dream, who made us excited. The National Police are at the scene and the authorities are conducting the corresponding investigations. He will forever remain in the hearts of all Ecuadorians.
It later added: “Thank you for having invited us to dream big and for the infinite joys that you gave us, you leave a great legacy in Ecuadorian athletics.”
On Sunday, the Folke Anderson football stadium in Esmeraldas will host a burning chapel to receive Quiñónez’s coffin.
Ecuador’s president Guillermo Lasso tweeted: “We are very sorry for the painful loss of Alex Quiñónez, father, son, a great sprinter who marked the sport. Our sincerest condolences to your loved ones. Rest in peace. Those who take the lives of Ecuadorians will not go unpunished. We will act forcefully.”
The country’s Olympic Committee said in a statement that the circumstances surrounding the death had “not yet been clarified”.
Quiñónez’s bronze had made him the first Ecuadorian athlete to win a global medal in any track event. He had qualified for this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games but was unable to compete after being suspended for breaching the whereabouts rules.
News of the sprinter’s death emerged on the same day as the funeral of Kenyan distance star Agnes Tirop, who was killed earlier this month – she also won a bronze medal at the Doha worlds in 2019, in the 10,000m. Britain’s Adam Gemili, who finished fourth behind Quiñonez at those championships, tweeted: “Absolutely horrendous few weeks for the athletics world. Rest in peace both Agnes and Alex.”
Last Monday Lasso declared a state of emergency in an attempt to tackle drug trafficking and a host of other crimes that are on the increase in Ecuador. In the Guayas province, of which Guayaquil is the capital, homicides have increased by around 70% in 2021 to around 650.