Olympic Marathon: A Centennial History of the Games' Most Storied Race

By Charlie Lovett | Go to book overview

27
The Games of the XXIV Olympiad: Seoul, 1988

The women's race in Seoul was perhaps as notable for its absentees as for its participants. Defending gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson had recovered from giving birth and from a back injury, but still chose not to run in the Olympic trials. Ingrid Kristiansen, who had placed fourth in the 1984 marathon, had achieved the remarkable feat of setting the world record in the 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters, and marathon since the last Olympics. In the Seoul Games, however, she chose to concentrate her efforts on the 10,000 meters, so she did not enter the marathon.

What the Seoul race did have was an overwhelming favorite-Rosa Mota of Portugal, who had won the bronze medal in 1984. Mota had been a tremendously consistent marathoner in the two years leading up to the Olympics, not only winning races, but generally winning them by margins of several minutes. Her personal best of 2:23:29 was the best of anyone in the 1988 Olympic field. Of the twelve marathons she had run, she had won nine.

Mota began her marathoning career in 1982. Despite warnings from Portuguese officials to her coach not to enter "a little girl" in the marathon, Mota ran the marathon at the European Championships and won. Unfazed by her first marathon, Mota went for-a run with friends after the race. In Los Angeles in 1984 she became the first Portuguese woman to win an Olympic medal when she took the bronze in the inaugural women's Olympic Marathon. She had not heard the last from Portuguese running officials, however. They were less than pleased with Mota's independent mindedness, and

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