In the “age of Usain Bolt”, 25-year-old Panamanian runner Alonso Edward has been one of the few men capable of standing against Jamaican and North American athletes for the podium in a racing event.
Edward amazed everybody back in 2009 when he was 20 years old and won the silver medal in 200 meter dash during the World Championship held in Berlin. The day when Bolt flew along the tracks and set the astonishing world record of 19.19 seconds, Edward crossed the line after the Jamaican prodigy with 19.81 seconds, which still stands out as the best time in the history of Central and South America.
That race shed media attention on Edward and, although he hasn’t been able to match the result obtained in Berlin, he has held his position within the speed elite over the past five years.
After Berlin, Edward went through up and downs. In the World Championship that took place in Taegu, South Korea, he also made to the finals in 200 meter dash, but he was disqualified. Something similar happened in London Olympic Games, where he was eliminated due to a false start. The Panamanian athlete kept on making mistakes and in Moscow World Championship, in 2013, he didn’t even make to the final.
Affected by lesions and incapable of developing the same speed in 100 and 200 meter dash, the Panamanian runner that had amazed the athletic universe in 2009 was living bad times and nobody could tell if he would be able to recover his pace.
The 2014 season played a decisive role for Edward’s sports future. The Panamanian athlete was victorious in 200 meter dash within the framework of the International Association of Athletics Federations’ Diamond League (IAAF) and Edward showed that he still was a great runner. All in all, he participated in 5 out of the 6 events organized by the League and he totaled 19 points, one more than Jamaican Nickel Ashmeade. His best performance was witnessed in Zurich, where he clocked 19.95 seconds.
2015: Diamond and Photo finish
The 2015 season was very good for Edward, since he once again conquered the IAAF’s Diamond League in 200 meter dash; moreover, he won a bronze medal in Toronto Pan-Am Games and was about to be on the podium in Beijing World Championship.
This time round, Edward only competed in 3 out of the 6 sessions of 200 meter dash in the Diamond League, but his results were enough so as to take him to the top of the ranking. The Panamanian athlete finished second in Shanghai, in May, with 20.33 seconds. Two weeks later, he repeated the second position in the event organized in Stockholm, although the time was better (20.04 seconds). He later participated in the Pan-Am Games and the World Championship. In September Edward went to Zurich and won with 20.03 seconds. So, he finished with 16 units, five more than South African Anaso Jobodwana.
Edward and Colombian triple jumper Caterine Ibarguen were the only Latin American athletes that prevailed in this year’s edition of the Diamond League because, at the last minute, Cuban Pedro Pablo Pichardo was defeated by the world champion, US Christian Taylor.
In Toronto Pan-Am Games Edward was described as one of the favorite athletes and he somehow honored that forecast, since he finished third and went to the podium. Canadian Andre De Grasse played the leading role in that event by winning 100 meter dash and clocking 19.88 seconds in 200 meters. Edward and Jamaican Rasheed Dwyer crossed the line with 19.90, but Dwyer was favored by the photo finish.
The Panamanian delegation that traveled to Toronto was made up of 42 athletes, but only two medals were taken back home: Edward’s bronze and the silver won by Greco-Roman wrestler Alvis Almendra.
In the Beijing edition of the World Championship, Edward showed since the first heat that his was in great shape. He delivered the fourth best time in the semifinals, with 20.02 seconds, it was the third time he ran a world final. All eyes were focused on the new duel between Bolt and US Justin Gatlin, so the third position was the main option for the Panamanian runner.
Since the starting shot, Bolt took the lead and ran the distance —unlike the result obtained two days before in 100 meter dash— with 19.55 seconds; Gatlin was second with 19.74 and the struggle for the bronze medal was very interesting. Edward and South African Anaso Jobodwana finished with 19.86 seconds each. Once again, the judges applied the photo finish and the Panamanian athlete was out because Jobodwana did two milliseconds less and took the medal away.
As for the 2016 season, Alonso Edward’s main goal is to win a medal in Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games and he will certainly fight to keep his crown in 200 meter dash in the Diamond League. Will he be able to fulfill these objectives?
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