Peruvian Runner Tejeda Aims To Bring Home Olympic Medal

Peruvian marathon runner Gladys Tejeda said she is aiming to bring home a medal during the Summer Olympics, which kickoff Friday in London.

“My goal is to get one of the medals in London, that’s why we have trained hard in the highlands of Peru and abroad,” Tejeda said, in quotes cited by French news agency AFP.

“I think we can achieve this objective,” said Tejeda, who will be Peru’s flag bearer during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. “For me it is an honor to represent the entire delegation and all of Peru that will be watching the Olympic Games.”

Tejeda will be one of 17 Peruvian athletes that will be competing in London during the next two weeks.

Tejeda’s story of qualifying for the Olympics is inspiring. The 26-year-old’s long-distance running career has been a short one, and her race in London will only be the third time she has done a marathon.

Tejeda, the youngest of nine children, was born to subsistence farmers in Peru’s highlands, in the central Andean region of Junin. She was raised in a humble home, where little money was available not only for consumer goods like television, but also new shoes for running.

“We didn’t have any money,” Tejada said in an interview with The Christian Science Monitor. “We couldn’t afford shoes, or plane tickets to compete abroad, or for me to do nothing but run.”

An all-star in local races, Tejeda first heard of the Olympics in 2008, when her family watched the Games on their first television that they had bought a year earlier. Since then she has gained widespread recognition, being known in races as the “girl from Junin.”

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