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Italian walkers take top two spots as battle for bronze goes viral

Host nation celebrates success in first European Championship final, but drama ensues as Spain's García-Caro celebrates early before being edged out for third place by Lyudmila Olyanovska.

Not only did Antonella Palmisano live up to expectations by bringing Italy a gold medal in the opening final of the 2024 European Championships, the women's 20km walk, but Valentina Trapletti also completed a double victory for the host country.

Meanwhile, in the race for bronze, Laura García-Caro had to lie red in the face, and not just because of the heat. The Spaniard had thought she would come third and began celebrating with a flag a few meters from the finish line before Lyudmila Olyanovska from Ukraine overtook her.

Video clips of the third-place battle immediately began to spread like wildfire in cyberspace. There were only a few people in the stadium to watch the battle, but now millions will see it online.

Palmisano, 32, is the reigning Olympic champion, but won bronze at the 2018 European Championships and minor medals at the U23 and U20 European Championships.

However, inspired by good roadside support early Friday evening in Rome, she was able to break away mid-race and maintained her form and nerves to win with a time of 88:08 minutes and a lead of around 100 metres.

Trapetti achieved a time of 88:37, Olyanovska and Garcia-Caro achieved the same time of 88:48.

Despite the sparse crowd at the Stadio Olimpico, a few small groups of Italians attempted to cheer as the Italians entered the arena for the final round. It was the loudest noise of the championships so far, although the attendance for the first night of the athletics finals was still disappointing.

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