Romanian Mother, 38, Takes Gold In Marathon

Constantina Tomescu-Dita of Romania crosses the finish line first in 2 hours 26 minutes 44 seconds.
Constantina Tomescu-Dita of Romania crosses the finish line first in 2 hours 26 minutes 44 seconds. (By Anja Niedringhaus -- Associated Press)
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Associated Press
Monday, August 18, 2008

BEIJING -- Reprinted from yesterday's late editions

Romania's Constantina Tomescu-Dita soared into the Bird's Nest, turning the Olympic marathon into a one-woman race.

Tomescu-Dita pulled away from the lead pack near the halfway mark Sunday to win by 22 seconds over her nearest challenger.

Reigning world champion Catherine Ndereba of Kenya outran China's Zhou Chunxiu for the silver to the disappointment of the roaring crowd at National Stadium. Still, the bronze was China's first medal in track and field. Another Chinese runner, Zhu Xiaolin, was fourth.

The 26.2-mile race was expected to be the biggest test yet of what impact the polluted skies of Beijing would have on the Olympic endurance events. Instead, the weather provided the runners with relief. Gray skies replaced the blue of the previous two days with a light rain falling at times and a temperature of 73 degrees.

Tomescu-Dita won in 2 hours 26 minutes 44 seconds. Ndereba, a pre-race favorite, finished in 2:27:06, one second ahead of Zhou.

Tomescu-Dita, a 38-year-old mother, blew kisses to the crowd as she crossed the finish line.

As thousands lined the streets through the Chinese capital, the Romanian ran away from the rest to lead by more than a minute through the race's later stages. She steadily increased her lead, until near the end -- and by then, it was too late.

American Deena Kastor, 35, pulled out early in the race with a foot injury.

Kastor, the top U.S. runner in the field in Sunday's race, dropped to one knee and held her right foot at about the five-kilometer (3.1-mile) mark.

"I felt a pop in my foot. I couldn't stand on it," Kastor said. "I didn't expect to be finishing the marathon on a bus."

She said the foot had been sore for the past week. "I thought it was just tendons, they get hyper-sensitive leading up to marathon," she said. "I was icing it this week. It didn't affect how I was training."

Another American, Magda Lewy, also pulled out of the race.

"I hurt my knee a few days ago," she said. "I just can't bend it, and it got worse and worse."

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