Ernesto CANTO

Ernesto Canto - Mexico - 1983 World & 1984 Olympic 20km Walk champion

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 11 August 1984

Click on image to enlarge

      Sunday, 18 October 1959
      Mexico City, Mexico. Died 20th October 2021, aged 61.
  • Mexico
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Ernesto CANTO - Mexico - 1983 World & 1984 Olympic 20km Walk champion


Top race walkers are known for their longevity, and Ernesto Canto was certainly no exception to this rule, competing in major international events for over a decade. Canto established a very good record in the biennial IAAF World Race Walking Cup, where he finished 6th in the 20km in 1979, and then finished first over the same distance in 1981. At the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki, Canto was one of a group of eight walkers still in contention at the 15km mark, but Ernesto broke away from his rivals with a blistering last 5km in 19min 32sec to win the gold medal by 10 seconds. In the 20km walk at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Canto duelled with defending title holder Maurizio Damilano (Italy) for most of the race, before drawing away in the closing stages to win in 1hr 23min 19sec. Eight days later, on 11 August, he competed in the 50km walk which was won by his compatriot Raul Gonzales.


The 50km walk was held on an extremely hot day and just to finish was an achievement. Although he only finished 10th, Ernesto still received a huge reception from the crowd when he crossed the line (see photo above). Canto did not meet with good fortune when he attempted to defend both his Olympic and World Championships 20km walk titles. At the 1987 World Championships in Rome he was disqualified soon after the halfway point, and at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, he was disqualified while in a leading group of three just after they had completed 15km. Canto finished second in the 1991 IAAF World Cup, and there were hopes that he would have similar success at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. However, he only finished 29th in Spain and retired shortly afterwards. (Ron Casey).

Personal bests.

20 km: 1:19:37 hrs –  Xalapa, 5 April 1987

50 km: 3:52:16 hrs –  Praha, 12 April 1982