Thinking she had already won the gold medal, Elena Lashmanova came to almost a complete stop.
Inside the stadium with one lap to go in the women’s 20-kilometer walk, Lashmanova briefly paused but soon got moving again and held on to first place to lead a Russian 1-2 on Tuesday at the world championships.
"The judges didn’t really explain to us that we should do one lap before the home straight and finish, and that is why I stopped," said Lashmanova, the London Olympic champion and world record holder. "But I quickly understood I should keep going."
Lashmanova held off teammate Anisya Kirdyapkina with a final burst of speed to give Russia a sweep of the gold medals in the 20K events after Aleksandr Ivanov won the men’s race.
After a dominating the walk through Moscow’s morning heat, Lashmanova entered Luzhniki Stadium with a big lead but then stopped after crossing the line a first time.
With Kirdyapkina closing in fast, a judge urged the 21-year-old Lashmanova to get going again. She did, and managed to break the finishing tape on the second go around for gold.
Russians have won seven of the eight women’s 20K walks since the event was added to the program at the 1999 worlds in Sevilla.
Russia even had eyes on a sweep Tuesday but Vera Sokolova was disqualified with about 500 meters to go, leaving Liu Hong of China to take bronze.
"It could have been the three of us on the podium," Lashmanova said.