Keith Hutchinson, who is a member of Hartlepool’s Burn Road Harriers running club, narrowly missed out on a medal after competing at the European Master Athletics Championships in Portugal.
It was the culmination of six years of training and attempts to qualify in previous championships in Spain and Poland.
And despite coming away empty-handed after finishing sixth, Keith said it was a great experience and marked his best performance in the event.
Keith, 41, from Clavering, in Hartlepool, said: "It was a shock when I qualified as I didn’t expect it. You are up against the best in Europe.
“I finished fastest of the full championships of the heats at two minutes one second.
"I thought I had a real chance of a medal in the final but the big boys turned it on and put me in my place.
"With 100 metres to go I thought I had a chance of bronze but just ran out of steam.”
The championships were held at the indoor Atlice Forum in the city of Braga in Portugal.
They are held biannually but were delayed by two years due to the pandemic.
Master athletes from over 50 countries competed cheered on by some 1,000 spectators, including Keith’s friend Paul Hewitson.
Keith, who is married with two children added: “I train seven days a week and have a lot of support from my family and friends.
"It was a massive achievement to qualify and to represent my country and Hartlepool in Europe.
"I loved it."
He is now looking ahead to defending his 400 metre British title in London in March.
And Keith is hoping to compete at the WMA World Championships in Tampere in Finland in June.
"As far as I’m concerned it’s just the start of my journey,” he said.
Keith was sponsored in Portugal by the Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, but is looking for new backers.
Anyone interested in learning more can contact Keith on 07525 441165.