Racewalker celebrates too early
Credit: Collin Rugg X

We’ve all seen those premature celebrations in football where the player on his way to a clear-cut touchdown run drops the ball in celebration just before crossing the goal line, resulting in a change of possession.

Apparently the world of racewalking (yes, it’s a real thing) isn’t exempt from such bravado.

Spanish race walker Laura García-Caro will go down in infamy during a recent 20-kilometer race at the European Athletics Championships.

Why? Because she had the Spanish flag draped around her neck as she confidently strode toward the finish line, a bronze medal seemingly secured. She wore the flag and a confident, beaming smile as she pumped her fist in the air.

Problem being, that Ukraine’s Lyudmila Olyanovska was right there with her. And, as Garcia-Caro was celebrating, she race-walked her way right past and into third place, snatching the bronze medal right out from under her opponent.

Making things worse were the zoomed-in cameras and the slowed-down videos on social media showing the absolute look of horror on Garcia-Caro’s face as she realized what was happening.

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Racewalker Celebrates Prematurely

It would be easy to poke fun at racewalker Laura García-Caro’s incredible flub on the world stage. Especially for a sport some strange people like to practice in the early morning hours in our neighborhood. Just jog already.

But the story gets worse.

Garcia-Caro is a nurse and a psychology student while the Ukrainian racewalker is a convicted cheater who was suspended from the sport for doping for four years.

Oh, if only the roles had been reversed in this scenario. It would have been so easy to just torch the whole situation.

“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, according to Reuters.

“Now I have to assimilate [what happened] and heal my heart.”

If there is some small level of consolation, the 29-year-old athlete finished first in the 10,000-meter event at the Ibero-American Championships in 2022. So she has that on her resume at least.

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Seen It Before

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a similar scenario played out before.

In 2021, Mateo Bustos was on his way to clinching first place in the Sagunto triathlon when he decided to bust out some sort of happy dance before crossing the finish line.

It didn’t work out so well.

In 2015, an American runner named Molly Huddle lost a bronze medal at the World Championships after celebrating too early.

That right there is why you always run through the finish line, kids. Or racewalk through the finish line.

Never let up or celebrate until the results are official. Play to the whistle!

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