When Jesus Angel Garcia crossed the finish line in eighth-place in the men’s 50km race walk on the Corniche on 29 September, he was 49 years 346 days old.
He was not only the oldest competitor at the IAAF World Athletics Championships but the oldest ever participant in the history of the World Championships. But the 1993 world champion isn’t planning to quit. Definitely, 50 is a venerable age for athletics, but Garcia still believes he can carry on.
“How is it possible to perform at your thirteenth World Championships? Easy! It’s all in your mind. It’s all in your brain.
“I would like to extend my career until the Tokyo Olympic Games. Finishing among the top eight at the Doha World Championships is one of the qualification requirements to make the trip. We’ve considered that with my federation, in case I’ll not manage to meet the qualification standard for the Olympics.
“Performing well in Doha in such difficult conditions makes me feel optimistic ahead of the Olympic Games. That is pretty much a motivation to start a new career in my 50s. I began my career in Barcelona 1992. And even if I’ll be forced to end it, I want this to happen in Tokyo also doing a 50km race walk.
“Life has been good for me, providing me with several opportunities and I have exploited them. I’m among those people who still have the privilege to compete and be competitive in spite of their age. Even if they’re not capable of winning a medal, they still have decent performances,” he said.
Garcia was more than three decades older than the youngest participant at the World Championships. That accolade fell to Nigeria’s 400m runner Favour Ofili who reached the semifinal stage at the age of 16.
“I was 24 when I first competed at the World Championships and I thought I was young,” said Angel Garcia. “The youngest participant in Doha is just 16-year-old? Gosh! I wish she will have a long and prominent life in athletics.
“What I wish for the new generation is to stay is athletics as long as me. Love gold, dream bravely, be smart and have a lot of motivation to get there.”
Doha 2019 LOC