VETERAN Spenborough and District AC athlete Keith McGhie missed out on a second European Masters Championship 800-metre gold medal by an agonising one-10th of a second in a dramatic final in Lido Di Jesolo, Italy.

McGhie, who took the title the last time he contested it in Turkey back in 2014, was pipped to the top step of the podium by Team Great Britain and Northern Ireland team-mate Paul Fletcher in the last strides of the two-lap race.

Only the Wyke, Bradford-based athlete was no longer on his feet as he went through the photo-finish, having seen the legs of long-time race leader Pierre-Jean Marique crumble just metres from the line and been clipped by the flailing hand of the falling Frenchman.

McGhie was helped away to the medical room where he was treated for abrasions to his knees, right arm, shoulder and face, still not knowing whether he had won or not.

He said: “The lest thing I remember was feeling the Frenchman go down to my left as I passed him and catching a glimpse of someone out of the corner of my eye to the right.

“The next thing I remember was my head hitting the track hard and the doctor standing over me.

“Paul wasn’t sure either and it was about five minutes before the photo finish appeared and confirmed his victory.

“I can’t complain as it’s not been an ideal year preparation-wise.

“Less than five months ago I was lying in hospital in Halifax wondering whether I would be able to write and talk properly again after having a minor stroke, then three weeks before the Championship I hurt a muscle in the top of my left leg - possibly through trying to train too hard to make up for lost time?”

McGhie, a freelance journalist and part-time electrical engineer, added that he would look back with relish on what was a “terrific race where everyone gave everything” after it transpired that the two Brit’s had clocked two of the five fastest times of all-time by an over-60 athlete from the UK - 2.15.22 and 2.15.32.

The British record stands at 2.11.3 by Blackheath and Bromley’s Bob Minting at Exeter in 2010.

McGhie had two days earlier won his heat in a then personal season’s best 2.19.54.

Fletcher’s narrow victory completed an extra-ordinary treble for the Manchester-born athlete, who has spent over a decade living and organising running tours in Spain.

Fletcher had already taken gold at 1,500m and 10,000m - strangely never having previously won a European Championship.

Home favourite and former Italian international Alfredo Bonetti - the World Indoor 1,500m champion in the age group - whom McGhie beat to gold over 800m in Izmir five years beforehand, came through to finish third as the unlucky Marique missed out on a medal completely, only crossing the line 10th after dragging himself back to his feet.