An overjoyed John Fitzsimons admitted he had to "hold on for dear life" to seal a brilliant 800m bronze at the European Under-20 Athletics Championships in Grosseto, Italy, on Sunday.

Fitzsimons defied the odds to make the podium with a gutsy, stirring run in 1:49.15.

It was enough to claim third and deliver Ireland its third medal of the championship.

"I can't believe it," Fitsimons said afterwards. "The first lap was slow and I was counting my blessings. I was very, very tired after the fast semi-final. 

"I fancied a slow lap and then just stuck in, hung in there. I made a move on the back straight and just hung on for dear life. 

"The legs were gone. All I was thinking was, 'hold on for dear life'. 

"I couldn't let anyone down. I had to give it my all. I'm over the moon."

Meanwhile, the Irish women's 4x100m relay team of Gina Akpe-Moses, Molly Scott, Sharlene Mawdsley and Ciara Neville narrowly missed out on a medal, finishing in fourth place in a time of 44.47.

Earlier, Nadia Power finished 11th in the 1,500m final in a time of 4:28.60.

Michaela Walsh took bronze in the hammer with a best throw of 61.27m on Saturday.

That followed up sprinter Akpe-Moses' stunning gold last Friday in what's being an excellent championship for Team Ireland.