Discus star Harting, who hurdled to history, 6th in final event

Arthur Abele puts string of injuries, facial paralysis behind him to win emotional decathlon gold European Athletics Championships.

Robert Harting celebrates after winning the gold at London 2012 Olympics.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Ripping off his vest, hurdling over hurdles lined up for a track event, Germany's Robert Harting celebrated his gold medal in the discus at the 2012 London Olympics with unbridled joy. As he flew over the hurdles, the German flag draped on his vestless frame fluttered, resembling a superhero cape. 

Later, the giant of a man managed to get robbed of his Games Village accredition and spent the night at a railway station. Along with the show put on by the inimitable Usain Bolt, his victory celebration lingers on as one of the moments of the London Olympics.

 

The colossus of the discus circle bid farewell to his home fans by finishing sixth  in his final competition, while Andrius Gudzius claimed gold for Lithuania at the European Athletics Championships on Wednesday.

Athletics is an unforgiving sport, and age and injuries caught up with the 33-year-old @DerHarting, his Twitter handle. Harting got the loudest cheers at Berlin’s Olympiastadion following his last competition before retirement. Harting, also a three-time world champion, received a standing ovation after finishing sixth with a throw of 64.33m.

“It was a momentous evening for me because the circle closes here. It comes as a bit of a downer though,” said Harting, who had been hoping to sign off with a medal. “There is a life after, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Harting built on a legacy of great German throwers, and leaves the sport richer. His younger brother, Christoph, won the discus gold at the Rio Olympics, ensuring the medal stayed with Germany and within the family.

An outspoken sports star, Harting declined to be considered for the IAAF’s “Athlete of the Year” award in 2014 because he did not want to appear alongside candidates who served doping bans, including U.S. sprinter Justin Gatlin.

Oldest and Abele 

Bring out the tissues and chuck out all belief that Germans are not given to emotional outbursts. The country celebrated when decathlete Arthur Abele won the host nation's first gold of the championships.

 

Abele, 32, shed tears of joy after becoming the oldest European decathlon champion. Not too long ago, he was battling injuries and facial paralysis on his left. 

 

“To win it here in this stadium in front of my own fans, it’s unbelievable. After so many injuries and so many setbacks, I’m overjoyed,” said Abele, who had a cardboard crown placed on his head and was draped in the German flag. 

With inputs from AP