Former athletics world medallist Alex Quinonez shot dead in Ecuador

Ecuador's Alex Quinonez poses on the podium with his bronze medal at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships. PHOTO: AFP

QUITO (AFP) - Ecuador's 200 metres world bronze medallist Alex Quinonez was shot dead in the port city of Guayaquil, authorities announced on Saturday (Oct 23).

Quinonez, 32, and another person were found dead close to midnight local time on Friday, according to local police.

"With great sadness, we confirm the murder of our sportsman Alex Quinonez," the country's Sports Ministry announced on Twitter.

"We have lost a great sportsman, someone who allowed us to dream, who moved us...he was the greatest sprinter this country produced."

Quinonez - who was suspended prior to the Tokyo Olympics due to a "breach of his whereabouts obligations" - was also hailed by Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso.

"We offer our sincerest condolences to his family," he tweeted.

"May he rest in peace. Those who take the lives of Ecuadoreans will not remain unpunished.

"We will act with force."

Ecuador's Olympic Committee said the death of Quinonez "leaves us with profound pain" and that his "legacy will forever stay in our hearts".

Jennifer Lugo, the wife of sprinter Alex Quiñonez, is seen outside the morgue in Guayaquil, on Oct 23, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

Violence has been spiking dramatically in Ecuador in recent months. Between January and October this year, the country registered almost 1,900 homicides, compared to about 1,400 in all of 2020, according to the government.

Lasso on Monday declared a state of emergency in the country grappling with a surge in drug-related violence, and ordered the mobilisation of police and military in the streets.

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