LIMA, Peru (liberty.edu/flames) -- Liberty senior Alejandro Perlaza Zapata helped his nation make history in the men's 4 x 400 relay final, Saturday at the Pan American Games. He ran the leadoff leg for a Colombia squad which captured the gold medal, the nation's first men's 4 x 400 relay medal of any kind in meet history.
Perlaza Zapata gave Colombia an early lead thanks to an unofficial 45.2-second split. He was followed on the victorious relay squad by Diego Palomeque, Jhon Solis and Anthony Zambrano. Zambrano overtook defending Olympic champion USA and defending world champion Trinidad & Tobago during the final straightaway, crossing the finish line in a time of 3:01.41, just off the Colombian national record of 3:01.16.
Team USA earned the silver medal in 3:01.72 while reigning Pan American Games champion Trinidad & Tobago claimed bronze with a 3:02.25 clocking.
Colombia had not won a men's 4 x 400 relay medal at the previous 17 editions of the Pan American Games, which were first contested in 1951. Colombia now ranks as the world's fourth fastest nation in the 4 x 400 relay in 2019, trailing only the USA, Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica.
Perlaza Zapata was one of seven collegians from the 2019 season to earn a gold medal in Peru this week. He helped Colombia win its third overall track & field gold medal at the 2019 Pan American Games.
Zambrano was a double gold medal winner for Team Colombia, as he previously took top honors in the men's 400 dash final with a time of 44.83 on Thursday. Perlaza Zapata placed sixth in that race, clocking 45.37. He had earned his spot in the final by winning his semifinal heat in 45.21 on Wednesday.