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She’s behind you! Watch as race walker is caught by opponent after celebrating medal too soon

Spain's Laura Garcia-Caro celebrates as Ukraine's Lyudmyla Olyanovska closes the gap
Spain's Laura Garcia-Caro celebrates as Ukraine's Lyudmyla Olyanovska closes the gap

Race-walking provided unexpected high drama at the European Athletics Championships on Friday when a premature celebration – which included carrying a flag, sticking out her tongue and punching the air – cost Spain’s Laura Garcia-Caro a bronze medal.

Garcia-Caro was so sure of her place on the podium upon entering Rome’s Olympic Stadium that she accepted a Spain flag for what looked like a final lap of glory behind the Italian gold and silver medallists.

The 29-year-old had never previously won a major championship medal but, despite a big screen in the stadium, she was oblivious to how Ukraine’s Lyudmyla Olyanovska was closing with every step.

Garcia-Varo even poked out her tongue and clenched her fist with around five metres to the line, only to be greeted with the shock of her career as Olyanovska went past her right shoulder in the final strides of what had been a 20km race.

Garcia-Caro is stunned as Olyanovska passes her
Garcia-Caro is stunned as Olyanovska passes her

They were given identical finishing times of 1hr 28min 48sec but the look of absolute horror on Garcia-Caro’s face underlined a realisation that she had been caught in the most agonising circumstances.

Olyanovska, who has previously served a four-year doping ban, was the world championship bronze medallist in 2015 and a European championships silver medallist in 2014.

“Two metres from the line Garcia-Caro had her hands up in the air expecting to be on the podium. She only realised with one stride to the line that Lyudmyla Olyanovska was coming and she overhauled her,” said Tim Hutchings, a former European Championships medallist, who was commentating for the BBC.

The race walk, which took place around the Stadio dei Marmi inside the Olympic Stadium complex, was won by the Italy’s Olympic champion Antonella Palmisano. Valentina Trapletti then sealed an Italian one-two as the hosts took the first medals of the championships.

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