The former world champion and runner-up travel with Banco Santander to the Greek capital to commemorate the event at the Panathinaikó stadium
ATHENS, Nov. 12 (from the special envoy of EUROPA PRESS, Gaspar Díez) -
The Spanish athletes Abel Antón and Martín Fiz will revive this Sunday at the Athens Marathon the pulse they maintained in the 1997 World Championships in Athletics, in which they won gold and silver, respectively, in the mythical distance of 42.195 kilometers, united , a quarter of a century later, "for the values of athletics".
"25 years later we come with another intention, that of that friendship and the values of athletics that have led us to remain united," said Martín Fiz at the foot of the Acropolis together with his then main rival and now friend, Abel Antón, to recall that glorious episode in a Banco Santander initiative.
With less suffocating heat and humidity than that remote August 10, 1997, Abel Antón will hug Martín Fiz again this Sunday, hampered by a soleus injury that will only allow him to travel the last 300 meters on stage in 1896 of the first Olympic Games of the modern era.
Sitting on the hill of the Acropolis, Fiz recalled that 25 years ago "nerves were on edge" because a World Championship was being played. "We did not visit the Acropolis because our environment was a room, four walls in the hotel, visualizing the circuit and, above all, thinking about the rivals: the Africans and Abel Antón, who was the greatest rival because he had just won in Berlin", said.
The Vitorian explained that both he and Antón have led "parallel lives" since they were 13 years old when they forged character and legs in the mud of the cross country. "In the last two years, Abel had won important marathons. He knew about his qualities: a fast runner, who had competed in the 1,500 and 5,000. He had studied him and knew how he managed to win me," he stressed.
For this reason, Fiz tried to squeeze his "talent of trying to take the race at a fast pace", although he was overtaken in the last section by the explosive finish of the Soriano in one of the most glorious pictures of national athletics, when the 'Spanish Navy ' defeated the African legion.
Antón remembers that he arrived three days before the World Cup in Athens, where he cloistered himself in the hotel combining rest with training in the park in nearby Syntagma Square. "After having won everything, we did come to the Acropolis, which I think was his thing because we were in Athens. But before the race, nothing, completely focused because we had to come and try to win the race," he said.
Antón, who today combines the management of a central sports store in his native Soria with participation, along with Fiz, in popular races as an ambassador for Sports Santander, pointed out that "he had not yet won anything."
"I knew that Martín was my rival to beat. I did a race to try to beat Martín. When I came here my reference was Martín, they were climbing twenty-odd kilometers and I knew of his potential because he was going to try to escape, but he can hold on", he celebrated with the sight set 25 years ago.
Then, the image so often seen occurred: the acceleration of Abel Antón just before the Panathinaikó Stadium and the historic Spanish double in the marathon. "When there were two kilometers to go, which were all downhill, I recovered from my crisis and I knew that something strange had to happen to me not to compete. At 500 meters, when I saw the stadium, I gave the jump and I already knew I was the winner," he recalled.
Antón waited for Fiz at the finish line that day to embrace success in one of the unforgettable episodes of Spanish sport. This Sunday, 25 years later, the man from Vitoria will be the one waiting for his friend Abel next to the mythical horseshoe-shaped stadium, which still amazes with its 45,000 seats, in which yesterday one chased the shadow of the other, and tomorrow they will merge into only one, forged by the "values" of athletics.