QUITO: Ecuadorian sprinter Alex Quinonez, a world championship bronze medallist, has been shot dead in the Pacific port city of Guayaquil, reported Xinhua, quoting authorities on Saturday.

The 32-year-old was one of two people shot outside a shopping centre late on Friday, according to local police, who said a motive was not yet clear.

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso vowed to find and punish those responsible for the killing.

“We deeply regret the painful loss of Alex Quinonez, a father, a son, and a great sprinter who left his mark on the sport,“ Lasso said on Twitter.

“Our sincerest condolences to his loved ones. Rest in peace. Those who take the lives of Ecuadorians will not go unpunished. We will act forcefully.”

The assassination comes less than a week after the government enforced a two-month nationwide state of emergency in a bid to quell a wave of violent crime.

Official figures show that more than 1,900 people have been murdered in Ecuador this year compared to 1,400 in all of 2020.

Quinonez claimed the bronze medal in the 200 metres at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha. He was suspended prior to the Tokyo Olympics due to “breach of his whereabouts obligations”.-Bernama