28th July 2019


One of the biggest highlights of the European Under-20 Championships came on the final evening of action, with Brits Oliver Dustin (coach: Graeme Mason; Border), Ben Pattison (Dave Ragan; Basingstoke & Mid Hants) and Finley McLear (Kirk Salmon; Exeter) locking out the medal places in the men’s 800m final.

The trio, who were all making their international debut representing Great Britain & Northern Ireland, put on a magnificent performance in front of a packed Ryavallen Stadium to take a first ever British clean sweep in the 800m at European U20 level.

The race started roughly with a slow 400m of 57.9, before blasting into the medal positions as they came off the top bend, securing their first international medals in the process, with Dustin emerging victorious in 1:50.56.

Gold medallist Dustin said: “We went into it and kind of knew we were some of the stand out runners and when things got serious in the last 200m, it was between us three. I’ve never had to dig so deep. I fought for it so hard in the last 50m and it was great to have a tough battle with Ben and Fin.

“It played into my hands really well. Everything just went right in the race and I was quite lucky. I was the most prepared I’ve ever been for a race, so I was pleased I was able to perform and execute it the way I wanted to.
“It was amazing when I won, especially with the whole GB team watching. The atmosphere was electric and the noise in the last 50m is something I’ll never forget; it was just crazy.”

The efforts of the trio gained them comparisons to the likes of Seb Coe and Steve Cram, something that the Cumbrian admits has not yet fully sunk in for him.

“That’s a bit overwhelming,” he added. “I’m just doing my own thing, and I’m getting likened to Steve Cram and Seb Coe, who are world record holders and Coe, Olympic Champion. I’m trying to work with my coach, Graeme Mason, to develop at a nice pace.

“It was a fantastic opportunity for me and the best experience of my life by some distance. I managed to keep the race how I wanted and to do it with the two guys to get the 1-2-3 was amazing. On the podium with them was a really special moment.

“I just want to continue to work hard and dedicate my life to be the best I can be. I’m always learning; the Euro Under-20s was a big learning curve as that was my first British vest. I’m really proud to be able to represent my country.”

The race, which has been compared to one from the ‘golden era’ of the 800m in the 1980s, was capped by the last lap battle with Dustin sticking close behind Pattison and McLear, to have a final fight for the win.

The latter did remarkably well to stay on his feet in the closing stages, hanging on to a podium spot despite losing his balance with 40m remaining and admits he had no memory of the closing stages.

He recalled: “After the heats, and how the Hungarian guy took off with a 52 second lap, I assumed he would have a similar tactic and take off hard.

“But that first 200m was slow. It was so tense, there was a lot of pushing and shoving going on in the first lap. I knew I would have to kick on the bell.

“I saw Oliver on my shoulder with 50m to go and knew I’d have to go again. In the last 40m, I didn’t really understand what had happened to me until I watched it back! My body must have kind of given way; something I’ve never experienced before.

“It’s all just a blackout really. I just remember feeling like I had no control over my body. I’m glad I managed to stay on my feet and still get the bronze. We were aiming to get the 1-2-3 so to do it was great.”

Despite being the youngest runner in the final at 17-years-old, Pattison showed racing nouse beyond his years, as he finished second on 1:50.68, just a whisker behind Dustin.

After making the switch from the 400m back to the 800m, he feels that his performance in Boras caps a remarkable year for him and he hopes there’ll be more chances for British dominance in the event internationally moving forwards.

He said: “It’s my first year as an under-20 and running the 800m again, so I’m pleased with a silver. I knew Dustin had won, but when I looked back and saw Finn on the floor and realised he had got third, I was so happy.

“It was an incredible moment with all three of us up there. We really wanted it to happen but pulling it off was so good.”