Spain's race walker Laura Garcia-Caro overtaken after celebrating bronze medal before finish line

Spanish race walker Laura Garcia-Caro stuck her tongue out and punched a fist in the air thinking she had won a bronze medal at the European Athletics Championship - only to realise seconds later that she had been overtaken.

The 29-year-old athlete was beaming and convinced she had secured third place in the last five metres of the women's 20km race walk at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Friday.

But Garcia-Caro's joy at winning a medal turned to horror when she looked to her right and saw Ukraine's Lyudmila Olyanovska bridging the gap between them.

The Ukrainian overtook Garcia-Caro with only two metres left to the finish line.

"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," Garcia-Caro told local media.

"Now I have to assimilate [what happened] and heal my heart," she added.

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Olyanovska, 31, served a four-year doping ban between 2015 and 2019. She said she was thrilled to have won the medal for Ukraine as the country has been in the grips of Russia's invasion for the past two years.

"It is a very emotional moment for me," the Ukrainian athlete 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."

She added: "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."

Gold and silver went to Italians Antonella Palmisano and Valentina Trapletti.

The 20km race involved 35 athletes from 14 countries.