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A Race Walker Prematurely Celebrates Triumph, Then Gets Overtaken Before Finish Line

2 minute read

As Spanish race walker Laura García-Caro approached the finish line of the 20 km race at the European Athletics Championship on Friday, she began to celebrate the bronze medal she was in good stead to win.

She punched her fist in the air and stuck out her tongue cheekily, with the Spanish flag tucked in her shirt billowing behind her. 

Yet, in the last few meters of the race, the grin on the athlete’s face turned to shock and horror as Ukraine's Lyudmila Olyanovska crossed the finish line before her, winning the bronze medal instead of García-Caro.

“I am quite disappointed. The first part of the race I suffered, but (I did) recover and in the last 10 meters I thought I had it, but I didn’t,” 29-year-old García-Caro told local media, according to Sky News. “Now I have to assimilate [what happened] and heal my heart.”

The video of Olyanovska overtaking García-Caro has gone viral on social media, with many viewers citing the moment as a lesson to not celebrate too soon.

The race, which took place at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, finished with Antonella Palmisano’s gold for the host nation in a time of 1:28:08, her Italian teammate Valentina Trapletti 29 seconds behind in silver, and Olyanovska 11 seconds behind in bronze.

After the race, Olyanovska thanked her country and her family. 

“Of course, I was tired in the last kilometer and last meters, but I wanted to win this medal for my country so much,” she said, per European Athletics, mentioning Russia’s war with Ukraine. “We train under very difficult conditions, it was very hard preparation but I am very glad I managed to bring a medal home.”

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