Before Erick Barrondo of Guatemala traveled to London to compete at the Olympics, he bought his family their first-ever TV.
His parents, both middle-distance runners, watched him race in the 20-kilometer walk in which he won a silver. It was the first medal of any color at any Olympic Games for the poverty-stricken and violence-wrecked Central American nation.
‘‘It is a country that has suffered much, but that also has dreams,’’ said Barrondo, a 21-year-old accounting student. ‘‘If somebody tomorrow changes a gun or a knife for a pair of shoes and begins to train for a sport, I would be the happiest person on earth.’’
Otto Perez, the president of Guatemala, said ‘‘this achievement shows what we can do with perseverance.’’