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Graf's surprising bronze gives Russia 1st medal

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 9, 2014 at 10:31 am •  Published: February 9, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — The race went perfectly for Olga Graf.

The celebration nearly turned embarrassing.

Graf gave the host nation a reason to cheer Sunday, winning Russia's first medal when she took a surprising bronze in the women's 3,000 meters.

It earned her a note of praise from President Vladimir Putin.

"You brought an unforgettable moment of triumph and utter joy to millions of fans by taking the first medal for our team," he said.

When Graf's time flashed on the scoreboard — 4 minutes, 3.47 seconds was a personal best — the crowd at Adler Arena erupted in cheers. She whooped it up on her warm-down lap, then unzipped her skin-tight suit right down to the belly button.

She was wearing nothing underneath.

"I totally forgot," Graf said sheepishly through a translator. "We have very good suits and they are very tight. ... You just want to breathe and you want to take off your suit."

When she realized her faux pas, Graf quickly zipped the suit back up with a mortified smile.

"Only afterward," she said, "did I realize that maybe this video will appear on YouTube. But I don't think it will be so bad."

Graf was not expected to contend for a medal in a race featuring favorite Ireen Wust of the Netherlands, defending Olympic champion Martina Sablikova and six-time Olympian Claudia Pechstein.

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