SOCHI, Russia (AP) -- The Russians are on the board at the Sochi Games.
Speedskater Olga Graf captured the bronze medal in the women's 3,000 meters on Sunday, and she was serenaded with thunderous cheers from the hometown crowd.
When the day began, many believed the Russians' first chance at a medal of any kind would have to wait until the evening, when figure skaters took the ice for a team competition. But Graf surged to the bronze in a time of 4:03.47, touching off a wild celebration at Adler Arena.
She may have finished in third place in the race, but Graf certainly deserved her victory lap. She grabbed a Russian flag and lifted it above her head, flying around the ice to wild cheers.
When Graf reached the medal podium for the ceremony, she leaped up onto her spot and thrust her arms in the air, the ear-to-ear smile never leaving her face.
She even earned congratulations from Vladimir Putin, Russia's president.
''"You brought an unforgettable moment of triumph and utter joy to millions of fans by taking the first medal for our team,'' Putin said in a statement.
Ireen Wust of the Netherlands took gold.
-- Jon Krawczynski -- Twitter http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski
Associated Press reporters will be filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu
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