Italian race walkers one-two as battle for bronze goes viral – AW

    Host nation enjoy success in first final of the European Champs but there’s drama as Spain’s García-Caro celebrates prematurely before being pipped by Lyudmila Olyanovska for third

    Not only did Antonella Palmisano live up to expectation by giving Italy a gold medal in the opening final of the 2024 European Championships, the women’s 20km walk, but Valentina Trapletti made it a one-two for the host nation.

    In the race for bronze, meanwhile, Laura García-Caro was left red-faced, not just due to the heat either. The Spanish athlete thought she was going to finish third and, as she carried a flag, began celebrating a few metres before the line before Lyudmila Olyanovska of Ukraine powered past to pip her at the post.

    Video clips of the third-place dust-up immediately gathered pace in cyber-space. There may have been very few people in the stadium to watch it, but millions will now see it online.

    Not everyone was cheering for the Ukrainian, though, due to her having served a four-year ban after testing positive for Turinabol in 2015-2019.

    Palmisano, 32, is the reigning Olympic champion but won bronze at the 2018 Europeans and minor medals at the European under-23 and under-20 championships too.

    Inspired by good roadside support early on Friday evening in Rome, though, she broke away mid-way through the race and held her form and nerve to win by around 100 metres in 88:08.

    Trapetti clocked 88:37 with Olyanovska and Garcia-Caro given the same time of 88:48.

    Despite the paltry crowd in the Stadio Olimpico, a few small groups of Italians tried raised a cheer as the Italians entered the arena for the final lap. It was the loudest noise of the championships so far although still a disappointing attendance for the first night of track and field finals.

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