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Garcia trumps Wightman to win men's European 800m title

2022 European Championships - Athletics - Olympiastadion, Munich, Germany - August 21, 2022 Spain's Mariano Garcia celebrates after winning gold in the men's 800m final alongside silver medallist Britain's Jake Wightman and bronze medallist Ireland's Mark English REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
2022 European Championships - Athletics - Olympiastadion, Munich, Germany - August 21, 2022 Spain's Mariano Garcia celebrates after winning gold in the men's 800m final alongside silver medallist Britain's Jake Wightman and bronze medallist Ireland's Mark English REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

MUNICH, Germany: Reigning world indoor champion Mariano Garcia of Spain held off Britain's Jake Wightman to win the men's European 800m title in Munich on Sunday.


Garcia clocked a personal best of 1min 44.85sec for gold, world 1500m champion Wightman taking silver in 1:44.91.


Ireland's Mark English claimed bronze in 1:45.19.


"I was feeling strong and I knew I could fight for a place on that podium so I decided to go for it," said Garcia, who won the world indoor title in Belgrade in March.


"In the end I came away with a gold medal at these European championships, I am very pleased with it."


Garcia, eliminated at the 800m semi-final stage at the worlds in Eugene, added: "I was expecting a much slower race, but it wasn't so I just went with it and decided to control it from the start.


"When I decided to take the lead, I knew I had to give it my all because towards the end of the race, that's when you have less energy, so I needed to get that right."


Wightman had stepped down to the 800m after surprising Norway's Jakob Ingebrigtsen for 1500m gold in last month's world championships in Oregon.


The Briton had bet on being able to re-focus better by choosing the two-lap race in Munich as he sought motivation after his shock triumph in Eugene.


But he hadn't counted on Garcia's experience, the Spaniard hugging the inside line after taking the race by the scruff of its neck with 450 metres to run.


Wightman went wide as a bunched field hit the home stretch on the seventh and final day of action at Munich's Olympic Stadium.


Garcia reacted immediately, spurting forward to keep Wightman at bay at the line in a dramatic finish.


"I came here to get one of these medals," said Wightman. "Going from round to round, I saw that there was a good chance to win it so I was ready.


"I was very close to the gold and I would have been very glad to get that... but I came out with a season best and a silver so I'm happy.


"I was not quite close enough in the last straight and it is tough when you are not that close with strong opponents.


"I did not manage to stay strong enough to pass Garcia. This is a tough race with lots of tactics."


Wightman, who also bagged 1500m bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, added: "It's really nice to get a medal from every championships this season.


"Now two more races but it has already been a good season for me." -- AFP


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