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SPANISH race walker Laura Garcia-Caro was overtaken in the final moments of the women’s 20km race walk, missing out on a bronze medal she thought she had secured in a dramatic turn of events at the European Athletics Championship,

Garcia-Caro, 29, was jubilant as she approached the finish line at the Stadio Olimpico on Friday.

With just five meters to go, she celebrated prematurely, raising a fist and sticking out her tongue, convinced she had clinched third place.

However, her joy turned to dismay as she saw Ukraine’s Lyudmila Olyanovska closing the gap on her right.

In a stunning finish, Olyanovska surged past Garcia-Caro with only two meters left, securing the bronze medal.

“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.”

Olyanovska, 31, who previously served a four-year doping ban from 2015 to 2019, expressed her elation at winning the medal, especially given the challenging circumstances her country faces.

“It is a very emotional moment for me,“ she said. “Of course, I was tired in the last kilometre and last metres, but I wanted to win this medal for my country so much.

Nowadays, there is a war in Ukraine. We train under very difficult conditions. It was very hard preparation, but I am very glad I managed to bring a medal home. This was what was pushing me to the finish the most,“ she said, as reported by European Athletics.

The gold and silver medals went to Italian athletes Antonella Palmisano and Valentina Trapletti, respectively, in a race that featured 35 athletes from 14 countries.