Athletics world in shock over Olympic sprinter's 'assassination'

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Alex Quinonez, pictured here alongside Usain Bolt at the 2012 Olympics.
Alex Quinonez made the 200m final alongside Usain Bolt at the 2012 Olympics. Image: Getty

The world of athletics is mourning the shocking death of Olympic sprinter Alex Quinonez, who was shot dead in his native Ecuador on Friday.

The 32-year-old became a national hero in 2012 when he reached the 200m final at the London Olympics, finishing seventh in a race won by Usain Bolt.

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He broke the national 200m record at the London Games before going on to win a bronze medal in the 200m at the 2019 world championship in Doha.

Quinonez was fatally shot in the port city of Guayaquil as he stood on the street with a group of people.

Guayaquil-based newspaper El Universo reported that Quinonez was gunned down in the northwest section of the city around 9:20 pm on Friday and that another man was also killed.

Alex Quinonez, pictured here after winning bronze at the World Athletics Championships in 2019.
Alex Quinonez celebrates after winning bronze at the World Athletics Championships in 2019. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IAAF)

Disturbing security footage has since emerged on social media showing a white car stop near a group of people standing on the street before two men emerge and open fire.

The men can then be seen fleeing back to the car and making a getaway.

There were no immediate reports of arrests.

Ecuador President Guillermo Lasso vowed in a statement on Saturday that the slaying "will not go unpunished."

"We offer our sincerest condolences to his family," Lasso tweeted.

"May he rest in peace. Those who take the lives of Ecuadoreans will not remain unpunished. We will act with force."

Athletics world in shock over Alex Quinonez 'assassination'

Quinonez's death was confirmed by the Ecuadorian Olympic Committee in a statement, who said the murder "leaves us with profound pain" and that his "legacy will forever stay in our hearts".

It said the circumstances of his death "have not yet been clarified."

Andrea Sotomayor, the secretary general of the Ecuadorian Olympic Committee, expressed her sorrow and outrage on Twitter, decrying "so much evil."

"I don't have words to express the sadness, helplessness and indignation that is overwhelming me," wrote Sotomayor, who was formerly Minister of Sport. 

"Alex Quinonez was the synonym of humility and a clear example of resilience. His loss leaves us with pain in our chests."

Alex Quinonez's wife, pictured here looking on as he is laid to rest.
Alex Quinonez's wife looks on as he is laid to rest. Image: Getty

The country's sports minister said: "With great sadness, we confirm the murder of our sportsman Alex Quinonez.

"We have lost a great sportsman, someone who allowed us to dream, who moved us...he was the greatest sprinter this country produced."

Roberto Ibanez, president of the Guayas Sports Federation, tweeted: "My heart is totally shattered, I can't find words to describe the emptiness I feel.

"I can not believe it, until when are we going to continue living so much evil and insecurity!

"Rest in peace dear Alex, I will miss you all my life."

Violence has been spiking dramatically in Ecuador in recent months. 

Between January and October this year, the country registered almost 1900 homicides, compared to about 1400 in all of 2020, according to the government.

Lasso on Monday declared a state of emergency in the country grappling with a surge in drug-related violence, and ordered the mobilisation of police and military in the streets.

with agencies

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