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Epic Drama at European Athletics Championships 2024: Bronze Shifts from Spain to Ukraine Two Steps from the Finish

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Photo: Epic Drama at European Athletics Championships 2024-Bronze Shifts from Spain to Ukraine Two Steps from the Finish. Source: Getty Images
Photo: Epic Drama at European Athletics Championships 2024-Bronze Shifts from Spain to Ukraine Two Steps from the Finish. Source: Getty Images

At the European Athletics Championships 2024 in Rome, the women's 20km race walkers Laura Garcia-Caro of Spain and Liudmyla Olyanovska of Ukraine came to a dramatic end yesterday in a battle for the bronze medal with two metres to go.

With two Italians, Antonella Palmisano (1:28.09) and Valentina Trapletti (1:28.37), already having won gold and silver, the Spanish and Ukrainian were fighting for the only remaining bronze medal.

Garcia-Caro, who was a few metres before the finish line at the Olympic Stadium, was confident of her victory as she believed that her closest rivals were not a threat. So she wrapped herself in the Spanish flag that was handed to her and raised her fists, slowing down a little. 

Olyanovskaya, who had discovered her second wind by then, felt a great opportunity for a sprint and started from the last metres. 

When the Spaniard spotted the Ukrainian, who had appeared out of nowhere and had already overtaken her, a couple of metres before the finish line, her face was full of agony - Laura, who was already holding a medal, was in fourth place. 

"It's a tragedy. Rule number one: don't celebrate too early!" the official account of the International Association of Athletics Federations wrote after the episode.

Thus, Ukrainian speed walker Liudmyla Olyanovska won the first medal for Ukraine at Euro 2024 in athletics. In the 20 km race walk, she won bronze in a super-duper finish: in the last metres of the course, she overtook Spain's Laura Garcia-Caro.  

"When I entered the stadium, I knew that I had 350 metres to go. And when I had 300 metres to go, I realised that I was working harder, and I was getting her. I saw that she was celebrating, that she was being accompanied and chased away. At 200 metres [to the finish line] I realised that I was getting closer, and at 150 metres I realised that I was going to get her. Although I won only in the last 10-15 metres, I knew I was going to get her," the athlete commented on the finish in an exclusive commentary for Suspilne Sport in Rome.

At the European Athletics Championships 2024, four Ukrainian women made it to the finals at once - two each in the triple jump and high jump.

On the second day of the competition in Rome, the Ukrainians will also compete for the finals, as well as for medals in race walking (among men). In particular, the hammer thrower Mykhailo Kokhan will qualify and three Ukrainian women will start in the 400 metres.

The European Athletics Championships are taking place in Rome (Italy) from 7 to 12 June 2024.

Medals will be awarded over six days in athletics and road races.

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