Posted by: Joe English | August 17, 2008

Olympics: Tomescu-Dita wins women’s Olympic Marathon; Radcliffe & Kastor falter

BEIJING — In a race that was set to feature nearly all of the top women marathon runners, strategy was sure to come to play. In yesterday’s Beijing Olympic Marathon, Constantina Tomescu Dita made a stragetic gamble and the field seemed to think she was bluffing. She wasn’t. Tomescu Dita of Romania, 38, stayed away from the field, winning the Gold Medal in 2:26:44.

Tomescu Dita said after the race that her coach — husband Valeriu Tomescu — told her: “. . . if the pace is slow for the first half, you can push. That’s all”. And that’s what she did. She pulled away from the lead pack near the half-way mark and continued to pull away for much of the rest of the race. At 30km, she was almost a minute ahead of the pack, and by the time China’s Zhou Chunxia broke up the pack to take up the chase it was too late. Five kilometres later, Dita had a 70 second lead, and although she was showing signs of stress, the race was as good as won.

While Zhou and China’s Zhu Xialin, along with Kenyan pair Catherine N’dereba and relative newcomer Martha Komu made inroads in the final kilometres, it was far too late and Dita was able to enjoy her final lap of a packed stadium in splendid isolation to win gold.

Zhou responded to the roar of the home-crowd, yet world champion N’dereba sprinted past her to win silver in 2.27.06. Zhou took the bronze in 2.27.07.

World record holder Paula Radcliffe was at the front of the race for 15km and still in the pack chasing Dita at 30km, but came up short late in the race. Her lack of training following a stress fracture was her undoing here today.

Having dropped out of the Olympic marathon in Athens four years ago at 36km, she looked to be repeating the experience when she stopped at 37KM. But this time it was only to stretch her hamstrings before resuming the race.

But she had already lost contact with the pack, and limped through the final 10km, ultimately crossing the line in 23rd place at 2.32.38. In her nine marathons, she has won seven. The only ones she has lost are her two Olympic races.

American Deena Kastor was the other major catastrophy of the day. At 5KM into the race, she stopped, unable to put any weight on her foot. Press reports are now saying the she broke her foot. The top American would be denied a chance to attempt another medal, after her bronze in Athens.

After two gorgeous days for the start of Track and Field there were overcast skies and light rain for the marathon.

The course was run through central Beijing, beginning at Tiananmen Square, going south past the Temple of Heaven, before cutting back to Tiananmen, the Forbidden City and the National Theatre, then snaking north through the grounds of Qinhua University, and near the Summer Palace, before heading east to finish in the Bird’s Nest.

The men take the course next Sunday morning as the final event of these Olympic Games in Beijing.

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
Managing Editor, Running Advice and News



  1. […] has struggled this year with injuires and comes into the race after a stinging defeat in the Beijing Olympic Marathon, where she struggled home for 23rd place (2:32:38). It was only her second marathon appearance that […]

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