Evan Dunfee and Inaki Gomez grabbed Canada its first medals in Athletics at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games on Sunday, winning gold and silver in men’s 20-kilometre walk.
The field included an Olympic silver medallist, Erick Barrondo of Guatemala, who had made a late charge for silver, but was disqualified while registering very fast times in the last few kilometres. The Canadian racewalkers finished in 1:23:06 and 1:24:25 respectively. Caio Bonfim of Brazil ended in the bronze medal position.
“The first kilometre, nobody wanted to go with it and I thought, I am going to go out on my own. Nobody came with me and I was able to stick it out. I am so happy that worked,” Dunfee, 24, said following the race. He is a regional under-23 champion in 20km, having already beaten some of the fastest walkers of his generation in the Americas back in 2012.
In May of this year, Dunfee along with Gomez and others had given Canada the men’s team title in the Pan Am Race Walking Cup, where Barrondo and Bonfim had finished 1-2 in the individual 20km competition. This was a star-studded international field in which Canada came out on top in hot and humid downtown Toronto conditions.
“Our support team had us fully prepared,” Dunfee said. “We planned it perfectly. We were more prepared than anyone else.”
Gomez, a Canadian Olympian, elaborated on that preparation saying the pair had planned on a punishing pace early to “have a better chance of taking these guys at the end.” They finished at around four minutes and 10 seconds per kilometre, Dunfee often registering a pace of 4:03/km through the middle portion of the contest.
“I feel pretty fantastic,” 27-year-old Gomez continued. “More than my silver, it’s getting to share the podium with my teammate and friend.”
After finishing first, Dunfee was able to watch Gomez get through for Canada’s second podium place in men’s walk.
“To be able to watch Inaki come across…it was so much fun. He had to fight.”
For the pair, the IAAF World Championships are next on their radar and Dunfee knows that he and Gomez are now two to watch.
“Nobody will be surprised now when we are up in that lead group and that is the important thing.”