It appeared that Kimberly García of Team Peru had absolutely smashed a world record in the 20km racewalk event at the 2023 Pan American games – until it was revealed that the course had been measured incorrectly.
García, who is a former world champion in both the 20km and 35km distances, crossed the line on Sunday in a time of 1:12:26, per Reuters, which would have obliterated the existing record of 1:23.49, held by China’s Yang Jiayu.
However, suspicion arose surrounding the rapid times after the race, with the organizers of the games, which are being held in Santiago, Chile, eventually confirming that the course had been measured incorrectly, with the athletes reportedly believing it to be around 3km (roughly 1.86 miles) short.
The Santiago 2023 Corporation released a statement later in the day, confirming the annulment of the results and attributing blame to the Association of Pan American Athletics.
“Regarding the female race walk event held today in Parque O’Higgins, we inform that, due to a measurement issue, exclusive responsibility of the Association of Pan American Athletics (APA), the results obtained in this race are annulled,” the statement reads.
“This was due to the fact that the expert commissioned by APA, Mr. Marcelo Ithurralde, was not accurate in the measurements of the routes to be taken by the athletes.
“According to the international regulations, APA is the only organization authorized to measure and is therefore responsible for the official distance of the competition.”
The corporation acknowledged that it hired Mr. Ithurralde, but only after he was appointed for duty by the APA.
“We deeply regret the inconvenience to the athletes, their coaches, the public, and the attending press, but this situation is beyond the scope of the Organizing Committee,” the statement continued.
CNN Sport has reached out to the APA and Ithurralde via the organization for comment.
The final classification of the results still stands, meaning that García and her fellow competitors are permitted to keep their medals. However, the annulment of the results still has serious consequences for the athletes.
Ranking points used for qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics are handed out based on race times and finishing position – which the athletes who participated in Sunday’s race will now not receive.
“I have never seen anything like that before,” Canada’s Evan Dunfee, who competed in the men’s race, told Reuters. “We’ve suspected some times that races were maybe a little bit off, but this one clearly the cones were put in the wrong place.
“It’s really unfortunate because it was ideal conditions and good ranking points up for grabs. For some of those women looking to qualify for Paris, that’s just really disappointing because it is an opportunity lost, so I feel gutted for them.”
Reuters reported that the men’s event was delayed by over an hour as officials remeasured the course and corrected the mistake.
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