News06 Oct 2021

Recently retired race walking great Garcia honoured with surprise tribute


Jesus Angel Garcia at the London 2012 Olympic Games (© Getty Images)

The long and successful career of Spanish race walking great Jesus Angel Garcia has been celebrated at a surprise event held following his retirement from competitive athletics.

The 51-year-old had announced that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games would be his last and he hangs up his race walking shoes with a remarkable eight Olympic appearances to his name – a record tally for athletics.

He also holds the record for the most appearances at the World Athletics Championships having competed at 13 editions, from his winning debut in Stuttgart in 1993 through to Doha in 2019, when he placed eighth.

“I guess I’m the Peter Pan of race walking, eternally young,” he joked in 2014. “Perhaps one day I’ll wake up and realise that I’m old, but I haven’t yet.

“I love this sport, that’s what has kept me competing for more than 20 years, race walking and athletics in general is in my veins.”

Most appearances in athletics

Olympic Games

8 Jesus Angel Garcia
7 Merlene Ottey
6 Lia Manoliu
6 Maria Mutola
6 Joao N'Tyamba
6 Tessa Sanderson
6 Dragutin Topic
6 Nicoleta Grasu

World Championships

13 Jesus Angel Garcia 
11 Susana Feitor
11 Joao Vieira
10 Virgilijus Alekna
10 Kim Collins
10 Franka Dietzsch
10 Nicoleta Grasu

Garcia’s international debut came at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, where he placed 10th in the 50km race walk in 3:58:43. He has raced at every Olympics since, placing fifth at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and fourth at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Closing the curtain on his career at the Tokyo 2020 Games, Garcia finished 35th.

At the World Championships, Garcia followed his gold medal win in 1993 with treble silver – claimed in 1997, 2001 and 2009 – while he also placed fifth in 1995 and sixth in 2003. Then there was his eighth place finish at his final edition in Doha, where he became ­– at 49 years and 346 days – the oldest participant in World Athletics Championships history.

He won the 50km event at the World Race Walking Cup in Podebrady in 1997, two years after his runner-up finish in Beijing, while his career record also includes two European medals – silver from 2006 and bronze from 2002 – plus PBs of 3:39:54 for the 50km race walk and 1:23:00 for the 20km race walk.

Garcia's major championships record

Olympic Games

Barcelona 1992 – 10th
Atlanta 1996 – DNF
Sydney 2000 – 12th
Athens 2004 – 5th
Beijing 2008 – 4th
London 2012 – 17th
Rio 2016 – 20th
Tokyo 2021 – 35th

World Championships

Stuttgart 1993 – 1st
Gothenburg 1995 – 5th
Athens 1997 – 2nd
Seville 1999 – DNF
Edmonton 2001 – 2nd
Paris 2003 – 6th
Helsinki 2005 – DQ
Osaka 2007 – DQ
Berlin 2009 – 2nd
Daegu 2011 – DQ
Moscow 2013 – 11th
Beijing 2015 – 9th
Doha 2019 – 8th

“I have no words to express what I feel right now after this surprise,” said Garcia at the tribute event on Monday (4). “I am eternally grateful and eternally responsible to give back to sport all that it has given me.

“I feel a lot of responsibility. I want to transmit all of my experience to the new generations. My goal is to accompany the Olympians in the short term in Paris 2024, that's what my commitment is going to be.”

His retirement from elite athletics will also give Garcia the opportunity to continue his coaching and chiropody careers.

“You are going to become a legend of Spanish sports,” said Spanish Olympic Committee president Alejandro Blanco. “Beyond all the tributes and recognitions, what you have achieved is that society understands that when you have a dream, no matter how wild that dream is, it can be achievable.”

World Athletics

Pages related to this article