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A Spanish athlete competing in the 20km race walk at the European Athletics Championships missed out on getting a medal because she started celebrating before she crossed the finish line.

Imagine walking for 20 fricking kilometres and being sure that you’ll be on the podium with a medal around your neck, only to have someone zoom past you in the final stages.

That’s what happened to Spain’s Laura Garcia-Caro, who looked set to clinch third place in the race.

Italian athletes Antonella Palmisano and Valentina Trapaletti had already nabbed the gold and silver medals, but Garcia-Caro was sure she would be able to claim the bronze.

As she approached the finish line she raised her fist in celebration and stuck out her tongue while she was draped in the Spanish flag.

She thought it was in the bag. (BBC)

However, just a few metres before the finish line, she was overtaken by Ukraine’s Lyudmila Olyanovska, leaving the Spanish athlete looking absolutely shocked.

After the race Garcia-Caro said she saw Olyanovska coming but thought she wouldn’t be caught in the final stages of the race with just a few more steps to go.

She said: “On the last lap I was quite exhausted and I tried to sprint with what I had left because I wanted to get as much advantage as possible to the last few meters

“It is true that with 300 and 200 metres to go I was looking back because I knew that it was relatively close, but at 100 metres I looked again and I saw that I was 40 or 50 meters ahead and I already thought that she wouldn’t catch me.

“And well, I didn’t see her coming and I thought I already had it.”

After making it 20k she was overtaken and missed out on a medal with mere metres left to go. (BBC)

As you can imagine, she was ‘not happy at all with this ending’ and hopes things will be different next time she’s racing.

The Spanish race walker will be among those competing later on this year in Paris at the 2024 Olympics, and after a scare like this you can expect she wouldn’t want to get complacent again.

As for Olyanovska, she dedicated her bronze medal to her country, which for more than two years now has been invaded by Russia.

She said: “It is a very emotional moment for me

“Of course, I was tired in the last kilometre and last metres, but I wanted to win this medal for my country so much.”

It certainly was a dramatic ending.