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Spanish Marathon Team

Prince of Asturias Award for Sports 1997

The marathon is the longest track and field competition, having a distance of 42 kilometers, 195 meters. It is a specialized event in which athletes can only participate two times per year, due to the tremendous effort and strain caused by pushing the human body to its limits in a race that lasts for more than two hours. Its origin dates back to the year 487 BC when, according to legend, a Greek herald ran from Marathon to Athens to proclaim victory over the Persians. That race now closes each edition of the Olympic Games and the World Athletics Championships.

In August 1997, in Athens, the Spanish marathon team made up of Abel Antón, Martín Fiz, José Manuel García, Fabián Roncero, Alberto Juzdado and Diego García confirmed their dominance in this event by winning -in the same race- the World Cup, the world sub-championship and championship. Spain became the only country that has won two consecutive world championships in this competition. This took place on a route that started at the city of Marathon and finished at Panathinaikon Stadium, where the first modern Olympic Games were celebrated in 1896.

Spanish supremacy in the marathon began at the European Championships of Helsinki in 1994, when three Spanish athletes climbed the podium: Martín Fiz, Diego García and Alberto Juzdado. One year later, at the world championships held in Göteborg, the gold medal was once again awarded to Martín Fiz.

Abel Antón

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Abel Antón (Ojuel, Soria, Spain, 1962 - ),  Spanish 5,000 m. champion on three occasions, he was the 1994 European 10,000 m. champion at Helsinki. He began training as a marathoner in 1996, and he won the Berlin Marathon in that same year. In March 97 he was the winner of the Seoul competition, after having participated in this event only once before. Antón culminated this streak by winning the gold medal at the world championships in Athens.

Martín Fiz

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Martín Fiz (Vitoria, Spain, 1963 - ) debuted as a marathoner came in August 1992 at Helsinki, where he went on to win with the best Spanish time of the year. In April 1994, in Boston, he competed in his second marathon and achieved a new Spanish record (2:10:21). In this same year he won the gold medal in the marathon at the European championships of Helsinki. In the marathon of Rotterdam (1995) he again broke the Spanish record (2:08:57), and this same year he was proclaimed world champion at Göteborg, a victory that consecrated him as the world´s best marathon runner. In the Seoul marathon celebrated in 1996, he once more broke the Spanish record (2:08:25). In 1997, at the world championships in Athens, he won the silver medal in the marathon, after finishing five seconds behind his teammate Abel Antón. In this same race, the Spanish team achieved victory in the World Cup for the first time.

José Manuel García

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José Manuel García (León, Spain, 1966 - ) has dedicated the better part of his athletic career to cross country, and he competed in seven world championships in this event, of which he is the 1996 Spanish champion. Before the world championships in Athens (1997) -where he finished fifteenth- he had only competed in one other marathon, in London (13 April 1997), which he finished in 2:09:30, enabling him to finish ninth.

Fabián Roncero

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Fabián Roncero Domínguez (Madrid, Spain, 1970 - ) began to dedicate himself to athletic competitions in 1991. In October 1996, he won the Capri Marathon (Italy), having only competed in this event once before. On that occasion he finished in 2:09:43, which placed him among the best marathoners in the world. His international reputation was strengthened at the world championships in Athens, where he finished sixth and contributed toward the Spanish team´s attainment of the World Cup. His most important achievement as an athlete was his spectacular 59:52 achieved in Berlin in 2001. He came first in this race with a magnificent time of 59m 52s, at that juncture the 4th best time ever, being one of the few athletes to break the one hour barrier at this distance. This time continues to be a Spanish and European record. Also at that time, Fabián Roncero went on to establish the Spanish 10,000 metres record and the Spanish 1/2 marathon and marathon records at the same time. In the same race, the Royal Spanish Athletics Association (RFEA) recognized his 15 and 20 km road race record times.

Alberto Juzdado

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Alberto Juzdado (Madrid, Spain, 1966 - ). Veteran marathoner, he obtained his greatest success at the finals of the European championships in Helsinki, where he won the bronze medal in a historic finish in which he shared the podium with Martín Fiz and Diego García. In 1996 he broke the Spanish record in Tokyo, where he finished in 2:08:46.  He participated in the Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

Diego García

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Diego García (Azkoitia, Guipúzcoa, Spain 1961 – Azpeitia, Guipúzcoa, Spain2001) began his career as a long-distance runner in competitions of 10,000 m. In 1989 he participated in his first marathon, and since that time he has finished second at San Sebastián (1990) and Barcelona (1997), and first at Seville (1995). In 1994 he began competing as a professional, and in this same year he won the silver medal at the European championships in Helsinki. In 1995, he competed in the World Championship in Athletics held in the Swedish city of Gothenburg. After coming runner-up the previous year in the European Championship, García started out as one of the favourites, but only managed to achieve a commendable 6th place. That year, García won the only marathon of his career, the Seville Marathon, and for the first and only time in his career finished the race in under 2h 10m, breaking his personal record with a time a 2h 9.51m, and came fourth in the Fukuoka Marathon (Japan). He participated in the Atlanta 1996 Olympics, finishing 52nd. In 1997, he participated unsuccessfully in the Athens World Cup in Athletics and was second in the Barcelona Marathon. His last major international event was the 1998 European Championship in Athletics in Budapest.

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