Ecuador won three gold medals in athletics at the South American Games ©Cochabamba 2018

Ecuador enjoyed a successful start to the athletics programme at the South American Games as they claimed three gold medals in Cochabamba today.

Athletes from the nation triumphed in the men's 20 kilometres and 50km race walking events as well as the men's 5,000 metres on the opening day of track and field at the multi-sport Games in Bolivia. 

Three-time Pan American Games medallist Bayron Piedra took the 5,000m honours as he clocked a time of 14min 32.47sec.

The 35-year-old Ecuadorian finished narrowly ahead of Bolivia's Vidal Basco Mamani, who was 0.11 adrift of Piedra, while bronze went to Peru's Luis Fernando Ostos Cruz.

Brian Daniel Pintado Alvarez won the men's 20km race walk in 1 hour 24min 56sec, with Cesar Rodriguez Diburga of Peru claiming silver and Chile's Yerko Cortes the bronze.

Cristian Andrés León topped the podium in the 50km event, clocking 3:55:48 to secure gold ahead of Luis Campos Cruz of Peru and Ronal Misme of Bolivia, silver and bronze medallists respectively.

Double South American champion Inés Melchor led a Peruvian one-two in the women's 10,000m as she crossed the line in 35:57.86.

The race walking events took place on the first day of athletics at the event ©Cochabamba 2018
The race walking events took place on the first day of athletics at the event ©Cochabamba 2018

The 31-year-old, 25th in the women's marathon at the London 2012 Olympic Games, beat team-mate Gladys Tejeda Pucuharanga by nearly two minutes to take gold.

Irma Vila Sonco of Bolivia came through to earn the bronze medal.

Gabriela Kimberly García León had earlier claimed gold for Peru in the women's 20km race walk with a time of 1:33:11.

Bolivia's Angela Melania Castro Chirivechz clocked 1:34.25 for silver and Ecuador's Maritza Jeaneth Guamán Maza clinched bronze.

Venezuela won two gold medals in taekwondo as Freymar Alejandra Marcano Duran beat Alexis Arnoldt of Argentina in the under-67 kilograms division, where Rocio Osario and Sandra Valderrama each claimed bronze.

Virginia Morao was the other Venezuelan taekwondo player to strike gold as she reigned supreme in the under 49kg division by beating Ecuador's María Belén Bucheli Jiménez in the final.

Belen Andrea Briceño Norambuena of Chile and Camila Bezerra of Brazil finished with bronze.

The South American Games continue tomorrow.