TOKYO – By starting this Friday, at 05:30, local time, in the 50 km race in Sapporo, the Spaniard Jesús Ángel García Bragado will have broken, with eight appearances, the world record for Olympic participations in athletics ( man or woman).
Until this Friday, the Madrilenian was tied at seven with the Jamaican sprinter -then Slovenian- Merlene Ottey.
At 51, García Bragado, who was world champion in Stuttgart 1993, is leaving with the 50 km test itself, which has been removed from the official athletics program as of Tokyo 2020.
Bragado made his debut as an Olympian at the 1992 Barcelona Games with a tenth place and has not missed any edition since then, always in a 50-kilometer walk.
Later, in Atlanta 1996 he left, in Sydney 2000 he was twelfth, in Athens 2004 fifth, in Beijing 2008 fourth -best result of all Spanish athletes-, in London 2012, at 42 years old, he was classified seventeenth and in Rio 2016 twentieth.
No athlete in the world has had such a long Olympic career and only four athletes, counting all disciplines, surpass him, three with nine participations and one, Canadian Ian Millar, with ten.
Tokyo will mark the end of his record career and will launch him into the Olympus of the Games, in a restricted “club” of athletes who pushed their limits beyond, who managed to combine physical and mental strength to prolong their elite careers for almost thirty years.
“Now that I am doing my last training sessions, many memories come to my mind of places where I have trained and competed, not since I was a marcher, but since I began to do athletics in the streets of Madrid. Those memories return to take a place that I was in oblivion, “stated García Bragado in a recent interview with EFE.
The absolute record of participations in the Olympic Games belongs to the Canadian Ian Millar, who was in ten editions, competing in horseback riding. He began his Olympic career in Munich 1972 and ended it in London 2012.
In that period he only missed the 1980 Moscow Games, boycotted by his country. His best result was silver in team jump at Beijing 2008.
The veteran Canadian rider, known in his country as ‘Captain Canada’, finished his career in London at the age of 65.
The second step of the podium is made up of athletes who compete in shooting and sailing.
Austrian sailor Hubert Raudaschl contested nine editions of the Games, as did two shooters: Latvian Afanasijs Kuzmins and Georgian Nino Salukvadze.
Kuzmins competed for 36 years, representing the Soviet Union three times and Latvia six times. For his part, Nino Salukvadze competed for 33 years and represented three different flags.
He began in 1988 representing the former Soviet Union and then competed with the Unified Team in the Olympic Games, the name used in the 1992 Barcelona Games, and eight times with the Georgian flag.
His record contains three Olympic medals, one gold, one silver and one bronze.
García Bragado will be the first athlete to reach eight Olympic participations and will join a group of eleven athletes, among whom is the Peruvian Francisco Boza, a shooter who competed between 1980 and 2004 and in 2016, by winning a silver medal in Los Angeles 1984.