London 2012 Olympics: Edwin Vasquez Cam – The best Peruvian athlete of all time!

Despite being known as a soccer-loving nation on the world stage, the Republic of Peru, a Spanish-speaking country on the South American continent since the 1820s, has earned Olympic glory thanks to its international shooters, who have collected a total of three medals in the Summer Games between 1948 and 1992. According to these results, unequivocally, the best Peruvian athlete is Edwin Vásquez Cam, Olympic gold medalist.

Edwin Vasquez Cam

Edwin Vasquez Cam was born on July 28, 1922 in Lima, the capital of Peru. Encouraged by his father, who was a former shooter, he competed in various shooting competitions in Lima and other Peruvian cities. During the following years, he spent several hours with his father, Mr. Gonzalo Vásquez, his coach and best friend. In 1938, Edwin won a school championship, but that was just the beginning.

When Edwin was just 18 years old, he finished first in the Gildelmeister Cup, a traditional event in Lima, defeating many veteran athletes. Since then, Edwin’s ambition was to become one of the best shooters on Peruvian soil. The following year, he was crowned “best shooter” in a major competition. In the mid-1940s, Edwin won a gold at the Bolivarian Games at home after winning the continental tournaments.

With limited international experience, in 1948 Edwin Vásquez and his fellow athletes took a trip to compete in the Olympic Games in the United Kingdom. The South American delegation competed in seven sports: athletics, men’s basketball, boxing, cycling, fencing, shooting, and weightlifting. In the British capital, on the other hand, nine shooters for Peru participated: Edwin, Cesar Injoque, Raúl Valderrama, Wenceslao Salgado, Luis Mantilla, Froilan Tantalean, Enrique Mendizábal, and brothers Enrique and Guillermo Baldwin.

Peruvian champion Edwin Vásquez Cam became the first non-American / European shooter to win an Olympic title when he captured a gold medal at the XIV Olympiad in London, the capital of the United Kingdom. That day, August 2, 1948, the Swedish shooter Torsten Ullman was surprisingly beaten by Mr. Vasquez Cam. Ullman, a gold medalist at the 1936 Olympic Games and four-time world champion (1933, 1935, 1937 and 1947), had been the favorite to win gold in the free pistol at the Olympic Shooting Championship, a traditionally dominated sporting event. by the United States and Western Europe since its inclusion in the First Games in 1896.

Edwin won with 545 points, followed by the Swiss Rudolph Schnyder (silver medal) and Ullman (bronze), both with 539 points. It was a day of national pride not only for Peru but also for the continent. Following Vásquez’s victory, the country became one of the first five Latin American republics to win an Olympic gold medal in the 20th century, alongside Cuba, Uruguay, Argentina, and Mexico. But within a few years he was forgotten despite his Olympic status.

Peru did not win any other Olympic medals until 1984 when Edwin Vásquez’s successor Francisco – known as “Pancho” – Boza surprisingly was runner-up at the Los Angeles Olympics. Before the International Games, he had been coached by Konrad Wirnhier, a 1972 Olympic gold medalist, in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Pan American Champion

Mr. Vasquez, by winning the world title in Great Britain, helped his nation’s Olympic team win a gold medal at the 1951 Pan American Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a world-class competition in the Western Hemisphere. In addition to these awards, he also won many international competitions.

Despite being one of the most outstanding athletes in Latin America and the Caribbean at that time, unfortunately, Mr. Vásquez and other members of the Peruvian squad, including Julia Sánchez Deze (Pan-American gold medalist in 1951), were unable to attend. . to Helsinki (Finland) to participate in the 1952 Olympiad. For absurd reasons, the then Peruvian dictator Manuel Odria refused to send a national delegation to Scandinavia.

An unknown Olympic champion

Historically, Peru’s Olympic champion, Edwin Vásquez, is the only shooter in Latin America to have won an Olympic gold medal. In the last sixty years, the continent sent some notable shooters to international Games, but none of them captured Olympic glory. From 1972 to 1984, Helmut Bellingrodt – Colombia’s most outstanding athlete in 1974 – won two silvers. Meanwhile, the Mexican Olegario Vásquez, by winning a gold medal at the 1975 Pan American Games and setting a new world record, failed to win the Olympic competition at the 1976 Montreal Games. In 1988, the Chilean Alfonso de Iruarrizaga finished second at the Asian Olympiad. In the XXV Olympiad in 1992, the Peruvian athlete Juan Giha, whose coach Bruno Sarti did not go to Spain due to lack of resources, came second.

Despite being the greatest Peruvian Olympian in the history of this country’s sport, Edwin Vásquez Cam, unfortunately, continues to be an unknown sports figure for millions of Peruvians. On March 9, 1993, unfortunately, he passed away. Ironically, his death went unnoticed by the national media. In a country that has not had an Olympic champion since 1948 and never world winners, he should be an important role model for the boys and girls of Peru, paving the way for a new generation of champions.

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