After two fourth-place finishes and one disqualification, speed skater Diego Amaya Martinez reached the podium in his final event of Lausanne 2020 to become Colombia’s first medallist in any Winter Games.
Amaya Martinez won silver in the men’s mass start event on Thursday on the iconic Lake St. Moritz to achieve his goal of making history for Colombia at the Winter Youth Olympic Games.
The 16-year-old timed his late surge to perfection and finished with an overall score of 20 points, coming in behind Japan’s Arito Motonaga, who claimed gold with 30 points.
Mission accomplished.— Olympic Channel (@olympicchannel) January 16, 2020
Colombian speed skater Diego Amaya went to #Lausanne2020 with a very clear goal: reaching the podium. He just secured a silver medal in the mass start event. 🥈🇨🇴
Learn more about his @youtholympics journey: https://t.co/Z1SvFrjIcx@Lausanne2020 pic.twitter.com/dzJ9dmRGy7
“I did not really believe it at first,” Amaya Martinez said. “With the mass start, you have to be really smart and stay calm until the end of the race. It was a big moment of joy for me to win a medal after all.”
The performance capped a remarkable journey for Amaya Martinez, who moved from Colombia to the United States three years ago. Trading his rollerblades for speed skates, he began to pursue his Olympic dream in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“I am the happiest mother in the world right now,” his mother, Beatriz, said moments after the race. “It has not been easy for him. We left everything behind to follow his dream, but now it has all been worth it.”
On Sunday, Amaya Martinez became the first Colombian to compete in speed skating at any Youth Olympic Games, finishing fourth in the men’s 500m event. The following day, he finished fourth in the men’s 1500m. On Wednesday, he and his teammates were disqualified for overtaking infringements in the mixed NOC team sprint.
After Thursday’s medal breakthrough, Amaya Martinez paid tribute to his parents. “I would like to dedicate this achievement to my mum and dad,” he said. “They have always been there for me and are really the winners of this medal.”