Jersinio was the name his mother wished to register him as when he was still a baby. It was not accepted at the Civil Registry of Azuay, however, under the pretext that it did not belong to the Spanish language.
Then his older brother Fausto suggested the name Jefferson, but in order for it to be accepted it was necessary to say that he was the son of a sportsman. Jeff was bornin one of Cuenca’s most traditional neighborhood, El Vecino, on the 1st of July of 1974. He is the son of Manuel Jesus Perez (deceased) and Maria Lucrecia Quezada.
In those days his mother never imagined that her dear “Nardo,” as she called him for his middle name – Leonardo – would become the greatest figure of all time in Ecuadorian sports.
As a pre-schooler, the life of Jefferson Leonardotranspired the same as all the other children of the neighborhood, amid economic limitations. As a student of Eugenio Espejo School and later at Gabriel Cevallos School, he had to work as well as study in order to help out at home.
In spite of a visual handicap, his mother is one of the pillars in Jeff’s success in sports. Apart from inculcating the best manners, she showed great inner strength inachieving success together with her children. In addition to Jefferson and Fausto, the Perez-Quezada family comprises Fabian, Marcia Patricia and Fanny.
In addition to his sports career, the 1996 Olympic champion worked hard as a student in order to graduate with a degree in commercial engineering and to obtain also a Master in Business Administration from the University of Azuay.
It Was Just ToGain A 100 In Physical Education
Jefferson’s entry in race walking was mere happenstance. It all began due to the relatively short time he had to prepare for a distance race that was to serve as a graded test in his P.E. class when he was an eighth grader at Francisco Febres Cordero Junior High School. That need led him to ask his brother Fabian to give up his place in the group of athletestraining with Coach Luis Muñoz so Jeff could train for a week.
Thus one morning in April of 1988, Jeff timidly showed up at the “Parque de la Madre”, which became his training headquarters from then on.
Coach Muñoz decided to motivate him to compete in a distance race. With just a few weeks preparation he won the Sport AID race, winning the right to represent Ecuador, along with Janeth Caizalitin inNew York and London as sports ambassador.
When Azuay’s coach Luis Chocho discovered his potential as a race walker, he invited Jeff to join his group, which included the South American champions Miriam Ramon and Luisa Nivicela. Although at the beginning he didn’t like the strange movements required in race walking, after discussing it with his family he decided to say yes to race walking,accepting this, at the time, “strange” and extraordinary sport as a challenge.
His first important triumph was the bronze medal at the World Junior Track and Field Championship in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, in 1990.
Then two years later, the first confirmation of his talent come on winning the world junior title in Seoul, Korea. “Father, I fulfilled my promise to become world champion” is the text written ona post card dedicated to his deceased father. Later there were more triumphs in the senior category in Bolivarian, South American and Pan American competitions.
The definitive confirmation of his greatness came with the gold medal in the Olympic Games of Atlanta in 1996. On the morning of July 26, he overcame all incredulity by Ecuadorians, as it was only a very small circle of those who closelyfollowed his career that held any hope for a medal. The injection of experience by the Colombian coach, Enrique Peña, was the determining factor in motivating Jeff and determining his strategy for the competition. The favorites in the event were also surprised by the unknown Jefferson Perez.
Certainly there have been difficult obstacles in his path such as a fractured collar bone in 1993 and a...