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Spanish race-walker loses European Athletic Championships bronze medal by celebrating too early

Spanish race-walker Laura García-Caro lost a bronze medal at the European Athletics Championships after celebrating too early. She was overtaken by Ukraine’s Lyudmyla Olyanovska just meters before the finish line, turning her joy into devastation.



Spanish Race-Walker Loses European Athletic Championships Bronze Medal by Celebrating Too Early

SPAIN: Spanish race-walker Laura García-Caro lost a bronze medal in a dramatic finish at the European Athletics Championships last Friday (7 June).

Competing in the 20km race walk, García-Caro was overtaken by Ukraine’s Lyudmyla Olyanovska just meters before the finish line after celebrating prematurely.

After nearly 90 minutes of racing through the streets of Rome, García-Caro entered the stadium with a medal seemingly within her grasp.

She had been passed earlier in the race by an Italian competitor but felt confident in her position as she approached the finish line at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.

In the final stretch, García-Caro, with the Spanish flag draped over her shoulders, began to celebrate what she believed was her bronze medal victory.

Her joy was palpable as she smiled and waved to the crowd.

However, her elation quickly turned to despair when Olyanovska appeared on her shoulder just five meters from the line and surged past her.

García-Caro, unable to respond, crossed the line in fourth place.

The dramatic moment, which went viral on social media, left the 29-year-old Spaniard devastated.

Speaking to the media afterwards, García-Caro explained her perspective during the race.

“On the last lap, I was quite exhausted and tried to sprint with what I had left because I wanted to get as much advantage as possible in the last few meters,” she said.

She recounted her misjudgment: “With 300 and 200 meters to go, I was looking back because I knew I was relatively close. But at 100 meters, I looked again and saw that I was 40 or 50 meters ahead, and I thought she couldn’t catch me.”

“I didn’t see her coming and thought I already had it,” she said.

Despite her disappointment, García-Caro remained determined to learn from the experience.

“I am not at all happy with this ending and hope that on another occasion it will be different. I have competed well, given everything, and had a spectacular season beyond this accident. I have had a pretty bad year and a half and have managed to turn it around by fighting with all my strength.”

“Now I hope to learn from this mistake and continue working to come back stronger.”

Olyanovska, who had served a four-year doping ban from 2015 to 2019, was thrilled with her bronze medal.

“Today is a happy day for me winning this bronze medal,” she said.

“The most important thing is that I need to say a big thank you to my mother, my father, and the whole of Ukraine. It is a very emotional moment for me.”

Olyanovska expressed that despite her exhaustion in the final kilometre, her determination to win for her country drove her forward.

“Of course, I was tired in the last kilometre and last meters, but I wanted to win this medal for my country so much,” she said.

The gold and silver medals in the 20km race went to Italian athletes Antonella Palmisano and Valentina Trapletti, respectively.

The race featured 35 athletes from 14 countries, making it a highly competitive event.

Debate ensues over race-walking rules

The video, uploaded on X, has amassed over 737 thousand views, sparking a flurry of reactions from netizens.

Among the comments, one user remarked, “It’s not over til it’s over,” emphasizing the importance of perseverance in sports.


Another netizen highlighted a crucial moment in the video, observing the Spanish athlete’s expression as the Ukrainian competitor passed her.

They underscored the lesson of not prematurely celebrating victory.


However, some viewers raised concerns about the Ukrainian athlete’s technique, pointing out that both of her feet were off the ground, potentially violating race-walking rules.

Commenting on the footage, one user remarked, “She had flying feet, both feet off the ground as she ran past. Surely in walking races at least one foot has to be touching the ground at all times.”


Another netizen chimed in, citing the fundamental rule of race walking: maintaining continuous contact with the ground.

They argued that the Ukrainian athlete should have been disqualified for violating this principle.


However, a counterpoint emerged, suggesting that judgment should be based on observation rather than freeze-frame analysis.

This user contended that using technology for assessment could disqualify many race walkers.

“There would be a number of officials, especially at the final straight to judge whether competitors had broken the rules,” they asserted.


According to the Olympics website, race walking has strict regulations regarding foot contact with the ground.

Athletes must maintain continuous contact with the ground, with at least one foot grounded at all times.

Failure to do so results in penalties, monitored by judges present at events.

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