Lopez and Beitia reign in Spain

Beitia tops the Spanish poll
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Spain's Ruth Beitia is ready to defend her European indoor title in Prague after having retained her outdoor one in Zurich last summer.

Miguel Angel Lopez and Ruth Beitia, who won Spain's two gold medals at last summer's European Athletics Championships in Zurich, have been recognised for their golden success.

Lopez and Beitia were named as Spain's Athletes of the Year at the federation's 20th awards ceremony held at the Spanish Olympic Committee's headquarters in Madrid.

 

 

 

At 26, Lopez is in the prime of his race-walking career and his victory in the 20km was the first major senior title of his career.

Beitia, 35, who famously 'retired' after the London Olympic Games in 2012 before returning, defended her high jump title in style at the Letzigrund Stadium.

It was back in 2009, at the European Athletics U23 Championships in Kaunas, that Lopez won the 20km walk in 1:22.23, a success which was part of a progression that saw him finish third at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow in 2003 before his brilliant performance in Zurich in August.

Lopez won gold on the second day of the championships as he launched a brilliant finish to defeat Russian Aleksandr Ivanov by just a second, the closest in the history of the event, in 1:19.44.

He said at the time: "Spain has a great tradition in race walking and it is a big responsibility to keep that going."

Lopez's dramatic finish in Zurich

Beitia remains a wonderful servant to the sport and she will head to the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Prague in March as the defending champion. Just like she was in Zurich where a height of 2.01m brought gold and, along with Russian Anna Chicherova, remained the best in the world in 2014.

And it was quite a night for Beitia in Madrid because she received another award as discus thrower Mario Pestano and her were honoured for representing their country on 50 occasions.