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Slovenia's Kristjan Ceh wins the discus throw in an elite field at the European championships

ROME (AP) — Former world champion Kristjan Ceh of Slovenia won the discus throw amid a world-class field on the opening night of the European athletics championships Friday.

Ceh’s throw reached 68.08 meters to put him ahead of Lukas Weisshaidinger of Austria (67.70) and Mykolas Alekna (67.48), the Lithuanian who broke the nearly 30-year-old world record in April.

Ceh won the world title in 2022 and took silver behind Sweden’s Daniel Stahl at last year’s worlds.

“I finally got my self-confidence back,” Ceh said after receiving a congratulatory kiss from his girlfriend, Estonian hammer thrower Anna Maria Orel. “Everybody was talking about Alekna. … He is the world record holder so everybody wants to beat him. I think it is going to be something big in Paris.”

With less than 50 days before the Paris Olympics, many athletes are using the Euros as a warmup, or a test rehearsal. Most don't want to peak in Rome but are saving their best for Paris.

Stahl (66.84) finished fourth.

Alekna said he “felt tired after so many events.

“I need some rest,” Alekna added. “It is a lesson. I was not surprised by Kristjan’s performance, he is a good thrower and he deserves it.”

Olympic champion Antonella Palmisano and Valentina Trapletti finished 1-2 in the 20-kilometer race walk, after which Palmisano put a tiara on her head to celebrate before her home fans.

“I had been a bit sad because there's little attention paid to race walking. But today I saw the fans really enthusiastic,” Palmisano said.

Lyudmila Olyanovska of Ukraine passed Laura Garcia-Caro of Spain in the final steps to take bronze.

Garcia-Caro was already celebrating an anticipated medal and raised her arm just when Olyanovska caught her by surprise and passed her.

There was also an Italian gold in the 5,000, with Nadia Battocletti clocking a championship record 14:35.29.

Ireland won the 4x400 mixed relay for its first gold at Euros since since Sonia O’Sullivan swept the 5,000 and 10,000 in 1998.

In the women’s shot put, Jessica Schilder and Jorinde Van Klinken led a 1-2 for the Netherlands ahead of Yemisi Ogunleye of Germany.

The six-day championships end next Wednesday.

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