Race walker Laura García-Caro misses out on bronze medal after early celebration

Spanish race walker Laura García-Caro cut a dismayed figure at the end of the 20-kilometer race at the European Athletics Championships as she narrowly missed out on a bronze medal having celebrated before the finish line.

García-Caro looked set to finish in third at the end of Friday’s race in Rome, and, with a Spanish flag draped around her neck and the finish line inside the Stadio Olimpico approaching, she punched the air in delight.

But the celebrations were premature. Ukraine’s Lyudmila Olyanovska surged past her rival two or three meters from the line, leaving a look of horror on García-Caro’s face.

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

García-Caro celebrates before the finish line in Rome. - Gregorio Borgia/AP
García-Caro celebrates before the finish line in Rome. - Gregorio Borgia/AP

Antonella Palmisano won gold for the host nation in a time of 1:28:08, her compatriot Valentina Trapletti was 29 seconds behind in silver, and Olyanovska was another 11 seconds back in bronze.

The 31-year-old Olyanovska, a silver medalist at the European Championships 10 years ago, later dedicated the medal to Ukraine.

“I was tired in the last kilometer and the last meters, but I wanted to win this medal for my country so much,” she said, per European Athletics.

“Nowadays, there is a war in Ukraine. We train under very difficult conditions. I do not know even if my five-year-old son saw me competing today because in Ukraine the infrastructure is broken.

“They do not have electricity, there is no internet, no light, so I do not know if he saw me on the TV.”

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