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Olga Yegorova surprising herself

Olga Yegorovasurprising herself

The pundits had the race even run before the off this evening. It was going to be a showdown between the Olympic and reigning world outdoor 5000 metre champion Gabriela Szabo from Romania and Ireland’s sweetheart Sonia O’Sullivan.

And yet at the end of the day, it was a little known Russian athlete Olga Yegorova who stood on the highest step of the podium in Lisbon this afternoon.

"I was surprised myself," said Yegorova, who will turn29 years of age in just over two weeks time.

"My best results before have been sixth place in the past two editions of the World Indoor Championships."

Yegorova had no master plan before the start of the race, just to do her best and run for all she was worth.

"I was counting on my kick," she said. "I thought that Szabo would probably overtake me, but it just didn’t work out that way. I kicked hard in the last fifty metres and I was hoping right up to the last metres that they couldn’t catch me."

Yegorova’s kick earned her not just the gold medal, but also the biggest pay day of her career: she will take home the $40,000 first place award.