Italy won the first European Athletics Team Championships to be fully embedded in the European Games ©Getty Images

Olympic high jump champion Gianmarco Tamberi paid tribute to "the strongest Italian athletics team ever" after leading his country to its first top Division victory in the Silesia 2023 European Athletics Team Championships.

Tamberi, making his first appearance in nine months, played a captain’s role to help his team earn a n elusive title they missed here two years ago by just two and a half points.

His late withdrawal because of injury in 2021 effectively allowed the hosts to retain their title as there was no replacement available, but he banished any lingering regrets today by securing maximum points with a best effort of 2.29 metres.

A second Italian victory on the day from European indoor shot put champion Zane Weir helped the team to finish 24 points clear on 426.50 in what was the first appearance of the full Championships programme - newly constituted as 3rd, 2nd and 1st Divisions - within the European Games.

Poland, who had been seeking a third consecutive title, were second with 402.50, finishing in rousing fashion in the concluding 4x400m mixed relay as Natalia Kaczmarek brought home the baton to rapturous applause from the most sizeable crowd of the Championships.

An earlier maximum points total had been delivered in similar circumstances by Alicja Konieczek in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase.

France were the form team of the day with three victories thanks to Ryan Zeze in the men’s 200m, Hilary Kpatcha in the women’s long jump - two years after she wrecked her knee here while warming up for the last edition of these Championships - and Nawal Meniker in the women’s high jump, which helped towards a total of 337.50 which placed them seventh.

Germany were third on 387.50 and two victories, from Esther Guerrero in the women’s 1500m and debutant Thierry Ndikumwenayo in the men’s 5,000m, helped lift Spain into fourth place on 352 points ahead of a British team that performed consistently without winning any event.

Relegated to the 2nd Division were Norway on 223 points, Turkey on 245 and - for all the game efforts of shot putter Jolien Boumkwo - Belgium on 250, 6.50 behind Greece.

Tamberi was made to work for victory in his first competition in nine months, winning on countback after Belgium’s Thomas Carmoy equalled his personal best.

"These Championships are about team spirit, not individual achievements," Tamberi said. "What we have to achieve here is to win the trophy for Italy. 

"Being the captain of our Italian squad, I would like to see every single athlete and every single coach on the tribune to support each other.

"I have never seen our team as strong as here and I'm incredibly happy to be the captain of the strongest Italian athletics team ever."

Weir’s winning effort of 21.59m frustrated the ambition of home thrower Michal Haratyk, the 2018 European champion, of completing a hat-trick of titles.

Haratyk was eventually displaced to third position as Britain’s Scott Lincoln produced a timely season’s best of 21.10.

Konieczek’s victory in 9mins 38.72secs completed a family contribution to the cause following the ninth place claimed by her sister Aneta, with a personal best of 15:43.35, in Friday’s women’s 5,000m.

"I didn´t charm the stadium today, I am the one who was charmed," Konieczek said. "The pace was slow today but supporters helped me with the finish."

The crowd were also fully exercised in the last individual track race of these Championships as home athlete Martyna Galant made a final effort that lived up to her name in the women’s 1500m but missed victory by just 0.01sec as Guerrero held on for maximum points in 4:11.77.

Italy’s European 10,000m champion Yemaneberhan Crippa, who set a 5,000m Championship record of 13:17.23 here two years ago, had to settle for third in a race won by Ndikumwenayo.

That result kept Italy on course, however, as did the women’s long jump, where Larissa Iapichino, who set a personal best of 6.97 in Istanbul to take European Athletics indoor silver behind Britain’s Jaz Sawyers, finished second on 6.66 behind the 6.75 achieved by Kpatcha.

Lieke Klaver, tall and powerful, dominated the women’s 200m, holding off the lingering challenge of Britain’s Bianca Williams to win in a personal best of 22.46 - just 0.01 off the Championship record her Dutch compatriot Dafne Schippers, the 2015 and 2017 world champion, ran in 2015.

Germany’s European men’s javelin champion Julian Weber earned full honours with a best of 86.26.

Czech Republic’s Nikola Ogrodnikova won the women’s javelin with a best of 61.75m, holding off the challenge of the German who beat her to the European title in Berlin five years ago, Christin Hussong, with Britain’s Bekah Walton earning third place with 59.76, a huge improvement on her personal best of 57.65.