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News and Notes: Women's Olympic Marathon

Tomescu-Dita's Run for the Ages

Constantina Tomescu-Dita's magnificent Beijing Olympic Games Marathon victory not only won the gold medal but also set numerous records.

 

Tomescu-Dita, who was 38 years 207 days old on August 17, became the oldest Olympic Marathon champion ever, supplanting Carlos Lopes, who was 37 years 176 days old when he won the men's gold in 1984. She smashed the previous women's record of 30 years 238 days (Rosa Mota, 1988) and in fact became the oldest women's medalist of any kind, topping 1992 bronze medalist Lorraine Moeller (37 years 61 days).

 

The Olympic marathon is one of seven World Marathon Majors and the last time a woman older than Tomescu-Dita won a Major was almost 21 years ago, when Priscilla Welch was first at the 1987 New York City Marathon three weeks before her 43rd birthday

 

Tomescu-Dita also joined Mota and Joan Benoit Samuelson as the only women to have won a World Marathon Majors prior to becoming Olympic Champion. Tomescu-Dita was the 2004 winner of the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon.

 

This was her eighth Top Three placing in her career in her career, making her fourth among active women behind Catherine Ndereba, Joyce Chepchumba and Svetlana Zakharova. It was also Tomescu-Dita's ninth Top Five, fifth best among active women behind Ndereba, Chepchumba, Zakharova and Margaret Okayo.

 

With her Olympic silver medal, Catherine Ndereba extended her all-time records for podium finishes to 17 and Top Five finishes to 18. Her time of 2:27:06 was her 19th sub-2:30, trailing only Katrin Dörre (21) and Chepchumba (20).

 

Ndereba also became the greatest scorer in the history of World Marathon Majors competition. Using the WMM point scoring system of 25-15-10-5-1 for first-second-third-fourth-fifth, Ndereba now has 8 firsts, 8 seconds, 1 third and 1 fifth for 331 points. Grete Waitz, the great Norwegian runner, had 12 firsts, 1 second and 1 fourth for 320 points.

 

Oldest Women's World Marathon Majors Champions:

 

Berlin – Ursula Blaschke, 1978, 46 years, 96 days

London – Joyce Smith, 1982, 44 years, 195 days

New York City – Priscilla Welch, 1987, 42 years, 344 days

Boston – Miki Gorman, 1977, 41 years, 249 days

Olympic Games – Constantina Tomescu-Dita, 2008, 38 years, 207 days

Chicago – Sue Petersen, 1980, 36 years, 22 days

World Championships – Catherine Ndereba, 2007, 35 years, 43 days