Canoeist Eriberto Gutierrez wants Peru to make good on laws that it enacted to boost the country’s sporting achievements after the Pan Am Games medallist rejected an award from his hometown due to what he said was a lack of support.
Gutierrez was invited to a ceremony celebrating the city of Abancay’s heritage last Saturday, where the 30-year-old was to be feted for his bronze medal in the kayak cross competition at the Games in Santiago last month.
However, after receiving a diploma and medal at the event, Gutierrez hit out at Mayor Raul Pena before leaving the awards on the floor.
“How ironic to receive recognition when the effort was mine alone,” Gutierrez said in a video of the event posted on social media. “Really, Mr. Mayor, at the time you denied me support. All of you. This is my effort. Thank you very much.”
Gutierrez later said in a post on Facebook that the mayor had always “turned his back” on him and that laws to promote sport were simply “for decoration”.
The municipality of Abancay did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.
After the video went viral, Gutierrez received public praise and a crowdfunding campaign was organised to provide support.
“It wasn’t my intention for the video to go viral, and I don’t need that much money,” Gutierrez told Reuters on Wednesday.
“We are trying to reach an amount to be able to continue the training and if we can get some sports equipment too.
“I believe that sports laws should be put into practice, for the development and promotion of sport, so that we can bring achievements to Peru,” he added.
Gutierrez’s bronze was Peru’s first medal in canoeing at the Pan Am Games. The country won a total of 32 medals in Chile, including 10 gold, six silvers and 16 bronze medals.