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Pamplona, SpainFor the first time in history, the Spanish championships were held after the major event of the year, on this occasiion the London Olympic Games. However, the competition held over the weekend (25-26 August) didn´t witness too many world class performances. The most remarkable appearances came from the reigning European 1500m bronze medallist David Bustos and the current European High Jump champion Ruth Beitia.
Bustos celebrates birthday with gold
As has become a long-standing tradition the men’s 1500 remained the most awaited event of the weekend despite that none of the contenders - in the guise of Bustos, former European U-23 champion Álvaro Rodríguez and the 2009 European indoor silver medallist Diego Ruiz - were able to shine at the Olympics. In addition, Arturo Casado was back to competition after an injury had sidelined the 2010 European champion for much of the year.
It was Istanbul World indoor finalist Francisco Javier Abad who made most of the early pace but he set a quite moderate rhythm with splits of 1:02:03 for the opening 400m and an even slower 2:06.83 at 800. Shortly before the 1200m point covered in 3:06.21, Casado moved to the front closely followed by Rodríguez, Abad and Bustos while Ruiz travelled still in eighth, way back from the leader.
An impressive backstraight by Ruiz put him in the co-leader position along with Casado. Entering the closing 100m still no less than five men had clear winning chances with Bustos finally prevailing, running in lane three to overtake first Rodríguez and then Ruiz while Casado, still lacking fitness, faltered on the homestraight and had to settle for eighth. Bustos’ winning time was 3:45.93 for Ruiz’s 3:46.06 and Rodríguez’s 3:46.18, the last 300m only taking Bustos 39.6 seconds.
On a statistical note Bustos had turned 22 on the day of the semifinals (Saturday). The joyful victor, holder of a 3:34.77 career best said, "Before the final I knew winning it wasn’t to be an easy task but I was one of the favourites anyway. I had a cold and a headache the day before and so my feelings were not the best during the warm-up. Once into the race I hadn’t great sensations but I still kept my strength and managed to overtake my rivals over the homestraight."
Bustos content with 2012 campaign
Reflecting on the season overall, the former (2009) European Junior champion said: "It has been a superb campaign for me. My main target was to make the Spanish team for the Olympics and I did. In addition, I bagged the bronze medal at the European Championships held in Helsinki and now I become national champion for the first time." On his immediate plans, the rising star declared: "Today’s has been my closing race of the season. I’m now planning a two-week holiday before resuming training thinking of the next year where I hope to do well both at the European Indoor championships in Gothenburg and the World Championships in Moscow."
Although the 33-year-old Spanish ace has not yet released a final statement on putting her athletics career to an end, her tears at the end of yesterday’s contest should be a reliable hint on her future plans. Beitia landed World indoor medals in Moscow 2006 (bronze) and Doha 2010 (silver) while her European tally includes no less than four indoor medals in addition to the title she grabbed in Helsinki two months ago. Her PB is 2.02m and her only missing accolade is a world-class outdoor medal although she narrowly missed one in London where Beitia finished fourth with a 2.00m clearance.
Regarding Sunday’s competition, one successful 1.96m attempt proved to be enough for Beitia to secure her eighth Spanish outdoor title before failing three times at a would-be SB of 2.01m. Summing up her indoor achievements, Beitia has taken no less than 19(!) Spanish High Jump titles.
In the absence of the newly-minted 800m national record holder Kevin López (1:43.74) who opted for the 400m on this occasion to grab the bronze medal at 47.52, the event became a two-horse battle between Antonio Reina (SB of 1:44.65) and Luis Alberto Marco (1:45.14). The former entered the final straight in the lead but Marco overtook him by inches to claim his second ever title in 1:47.77 for Reina’s 1:47.84.
Meanwhile, the reigning World 1500m bronze medallist Natalia Rodríguez clinched a convincing victory head and shoulders ahead of Isabel Macías on a tactical race taken in 4:24.95.
On the infield, Mario Pestano kept Olympic sevent-placer Frank Casañas at bay to record his 12th gold medal in a row by the narrowest of the margin on this occasion, 63.28m to 63.27m.
It’s also worth mentioning the fourth consecutive 100/200 double managed by Ángel David Rodríguez with respective times of 10.35 and 20.98.