Jefferson Leonardo Pérez Quezada (born July 1, 1974 in Cuenca) is a retired Ecuadorian race walker. He specializes in the 20 km event, in which he has won the only two medals his country has ever achieved in the Olympic Games.
He won the gold medal at the 1996 Olympics, becoming the youngest-ever gold medal winner in the 20 km walk event. Following his win he embarked on a 459 km pilgrimage, walking, jogging and running from Quito's Franciscan cathedral to his hometown of Cuenca. In the 2008 Olympics he won the silver medal in the same competition at 34 years of age, before announcing his retirement from the sport.
In the 2003 World Championships in Paris, France, Pérez also set the world best performance (as there are no world records in race walking) with 1:17:21 in the 20 km.
Pérez had fourth place finishes in the 20 km walk at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.
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“A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the high virtues of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation.”
—Thomas Jefferson (17431826)