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Champi, Toaquiza are South American heroes

Champi, Toaquiza are South American heroes

Peru’s René Champi and Ecuador’s Carmen Toaquiza grabbed the senior titles at the 32nd edition of the South American Cross Country Championships on Sunday (19) at the Parque Padre Hurtado in La Reina, a suburb of the Chilean capital of Santiago.

The event, which qualified its champions to the IAAF World Championships Kampala 2017 on 26 March, took place in 30C heat on an almost flat two-kilometre loop.

Champi, who finished just second over 5000m at the 2016 Peruvian Championships, surprised with his victory in the men’s 10km race, becoming the first Peruvian to win the men’s title. The 26-year-old, who has a 10,000m personal best of 29:45.49, closely followed Brazil’s four-time champion Gilberto Lopes and passed him in the final kilometre.

Champi clocked 30:46, beating his compatriot Walter Nina (30:51), while Lopes was third (30:53). Ecuador’s Christian Vasconez was also in contention and finished fourth (30:55). Peru dominated the team competition with 17 points, finishing comfortably ahead of Chile (31) and Uruguay (32).

In a perfect team effort, Ecuador dominated the senior women’s 10km race over the Peruvian athletes. 21-year-old Toaquiza took the victory in 35:36 while her compatriots Diana Landi (35:47) and Jessica Paguay (35:54) completed the podium.

Toaquiza, who finished third over 5000m at the 2016 South American Under-23 Championships with a personal best of 16:47.34, became the second Ecuadorian to win the women’s title, repeating the feat achieved by Graciela Caizabamba in 1991 at home soil in Ambato.

Ecuador also topped the team classification with six points, ahead of Peru (15) and Argentina (39).