Evan Dunfee, Canadian race walker, captures Pan Am title
Teammate Inaki Gomez takes silver medal in men's 20 km
Evan Dunfee didn't let scorching temperatures and stifling humidity slow him down at the Pan American Games on Sunday as he and teammate Inaki Gomez finished 1-2 in the men's 20-kilometre race walk.
The Richmond, B.C., native finished in one hour 23 minutes six seconds while training partner Gomez was second in 1:24:25.
Dunfee said he wasn't bothered by the heat that enveloped Toronto on the weekend. Five women dropped out of the women's marathon on Saturday while Mexico's Maria Gonzalez collapsed at the finish line after winning the women's race walk earlier Sunday in a Games-record time.
"There were very few times in the race where I felt hot so I think we managed it better than anyone else did and that of helped me," said Dunfee. "We knew it was going to be hot, but we just thought it was going to be the same for everyone. Some of these guys train in altitude where it's a little bit dryer so it's a different kind of heat than they're used to."
Spending three months of the Canadian winter training in Canberra during the Australian summer helped prepare Dunfee for the conditions, said Canadian coach Peter Eriksson.
"It's tough to train and be outside in Canada in the winter," he said. "It's worth the investment for him to do all of that. For us, we see clearly the results with him moving up in the world ranking."
Gomez said the Canadian support staff helped, too.
"We have a fantastic team who brings us ice vests and make sure we do studies beforehand to prepare ourselves for this kind of conditions," he said.
Dunfee, who is the Canadian record-holder in the 20K, completed his degree in kinesiology at the University of British Columbia last spring, which afforded him the opportunity to head elsewhere to train this season.
Up next for the race walkers is the world championships in Beijing in August. Both racers have already met the Canadian Olympic standard and hope to qualify next summer for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
"It's a good day for us," said Eriksson. "I know both Evan and Inaki are in good shape — this is just the start of something greater. I look forward to seeing them at the worlds as well."
Gonzalez takes women's gold
Gonzalez was treated by medical staff on-site and taken to hospital for observation. She later returned to receive her medal.
"I felt bad but in the end I am satisfied because I broke my personal record and I am happy," she said in Spanish. "My recovery was quick, like 15 minutes or so."
The top Canadian woman was Olympian Rachel Seaman of Peterborough, Ont., who finished sixth in 1:32:49. Katelynn Ramage of Nanaimo, B.C., was 12th.
Brazil's Erica de Sena was second in 1:30:03 while Ecuador's Paola Perez collected bronze in 1:31:53.
Seaman said she did the best she could under the conditions.
"I raced really smart and kept myself in there at one point to go after it but my body just didn't have it to carry me through quicker," she said. "I was capable but today it just didn't happen."