Golden moment for Ana Guevara

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Ana Guevara celebrates after winning the 400 meters at the 2003 world championship in Paris.

They were 48.89 seconds that changed the history of Mexico, 48.89 seconds that motivated millions of Mexican men and women to chase their dreams.

The time belongs to Ana Guevara, who made history at the 2003 world championship in Paris by becoming the best 400-meter female sprinter in the world and the first Mexican female track athlete to win a gold medal in a major international competition.

Born in Sonora, the same land that gave birth to other great Mexican sports figures such as Julio Cesar Chavez and Fernando Valenzuela, the current Mexican senator has been voted the ninth most influential Hispanic woman in the history of sports by a blue-ribbon panel assembled by espnW and ESPN Deportes.

Considered the best Mexican female athlete in history, Guevara achieved things that reached beyond the track and helped conceive a new kind of woman in her country and forged a new breed of Mexican female athlete.

Before winning medals in the Central American, Pan-American and Olympic games, long before she became the 2003 400-meter world champion and pocketed the gold bars from the IAAF Golden League, Guevara was shining in sports -- although far away from the track.

A big basketball fan, Guevara led the all-star team that represented Nogales in the Sonora championship, although it was not until 1996 that she began to be noticed for her other passion -- track and field.

After winning the 400 and 800 meters at the Mexican national championship, Guevara began to rake in the medals, including two silver medals at the 1998 Central American Games in Venezuela that made her a member of the Mexican track and field team, then the gold medal a year later at the Pan-American Games in Canada.

It was then that Guevara and her Cuban trainer, Raul Barreda, decided to forgo the 800-meter run and focus only on the 400.

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Ana Guevara is considered the greatest Mexican female athlete of all time.

And they were not wrong. Although she did not win a medal in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, she proved in the final that she had a bright future, beating the 50-second barrier with a time of 49.96 seconds and finishing fifth.

That was just the beginning. In 2001, she won a Golden League meet and the bronze medal at the world championship in Canada. In 2002, she swept the Golden League by winning all seven events. That, more than winning gold, pushed her to fulfill a new objective: to break the 49-second barrier.

It was in 2003 that Guevara's legacy was cemented. As a prelude, Guevara won gold at the Pan-American Games in early August. Then, on Aug. 27, she stopped all of Mexico for those historic 48.89 seconds.

By then, Guevara was not only a successful athlete but also was an icon and a reference point for the whole world. Her image was seen everywhere, holding her fist up high, showing her power and signing contracts that not long ago were unthinkable for a Mexican track athlete. Those 48.89 seconds turned Guevara into a star.

Carrying the burden of Mexican sports in the 2004 Olympic Games, Guevara won the silver behind Tonique Williams-Darling of the Bahamas. She declined to compete at the 2008 Beijing Games as part of her fight to reorganize the Mexican Track and Field Federation, looking for better conditions for herself and her fellow athletes. She retired from track as a 30-year-old in 2008.

These days, at 36, Guevara represents the interests of the Mexican people as a senator, and she just celebrated the 10th anniversary of the world championship she won in France. She remains the greatest Mexican female athlete of all time.

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