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Constantina Dita

[Photo of Constantina Dita]
CONSTANTINA DITA
ROMANIA

BIRTHDATE:
23 January 1970

PERSONAL BEST:
2:21:30 (Chicago, 2005)

WORLD MARATHON MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS:

25Apr10 Virgin London Marathon 25th 2:41:12
26Apr09 Flora London Marathon DNF
12Oct08 Bank of America Chicago Marathon 4th 2:30:57
17Aug08 Olympic Marathon, Beijing 1st 2:26:44
13Apr08 Flora London Marathon 8th 2:27:45
04Nov07 ING New York City Marathon DNF
22Apr07 Flora London Marathon 3rd 2:23:55
22Oct06 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon 5th 2:24:25
23Apr06 Flora London Marathon 7th 2:27:51
09Oct05 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon 2nd 2:21:30
14Aug05 World Championships Marathon 3rd 2:23:19
17Apr05 Flora London Marathon 2nd 2:22:50
10Oct04 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon 1st 2:23:45
20Aug04 Olympic Marathon, Athens 20th 2:37:31
18Apr04 Flora London Marathon 3rd 2:26:52
12Oct03 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon 2nd 2:23:35
31Aug03 World Championships Marathon DNF
20Apr03 Flora London Marathon 6th 2:23:43
12Aug01 World Championships Marathon 10th 2:30:38
29Aug99 World Championships Marathon 19th 2:36:28

ADDITIONAL CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:

16Nov09 Yokohoma Women’s Marathon 11th 2:36:06
27Jan08 Osaka International Ladies Marathon 9th 2:28:15
08Dec02 Singapore Marathon 1st 2:36:06
20Oct02 Amsterdam Marathon 2nd 2:23:54
03Mar02 Los Angeles Marathon 4th 2:33:58
18Nov01 Tokyo Women's Marathon 4th 2:26:39
21Apr01 Belgrade Marathon 2nd 2:33:30
15Oct00 Istanbul Marathon 2nd 2:37:57

CAREER NOTES:

Constantina Dita is one of the most successful Romanian athletes of all-time. She is currently the Romanian national road record holder for the 5K, 10K, 15K, Half Marathon and the Marathon.

The highlight of her career came at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games marathon. After running with the pack through a conservative first half, she broke away and no one chased after her. Dita continued to accelerate the pace and she went on to claim the Olympic gold by 22 seconds. At the age of 38 her unexpected triumph made her not just the oldest Olympic marathon champion ever, male or female, but the oldest Olympic marathon medalist.

In 2002, Dita had a brilliant year on the roads. At the Peachtree 10K she posted a Romanian record of 31:14 for second place behind Lornah Kiplagat’s course record. The following weekend in Utica, N.Y., she set another Romanian record of 48:28 in winning the 15K event. Preparing for a fall marathon she set a Romanian Half Marathon record of 1:08:10 at the national championships. A time of 15:09 in a 5K road race brought her to the Amsterdam Marathon in great shape. In line with her training and summer efforts, Dita posted a world class time of 2:23:54 for second place, improving on her 2:26:39 in Tokyo the previous year.

Dita kicked off 2003 by lowering her personal best to 2:23:43 at the Flora London Marathon. She continued her hot streak in October at The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon, leading much of the race and setting a new personal record of 2:23:35 in a second-place finish.

In 2004 she returned as the defending champion at the Steamboat Classic and finished third. In extremely hot, humid weather she placed 20th at the Athens Olympic Marathon in 2:37:31. She ran the IAAF World Championships Half Marathon and placed third in 1:09:07, and just one week later, although sick with a cold, Dita prevailed against a strong field to win The 2004 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon in 2:23:45.

Dita had a career year in 2005, rewriting personal and Romanian marathon national records in London and Chicago. In April, she blazed through the Flora London Marathon to finish second in 2:22:50, a world best for women 35 and older. She also claimed victory at the Steamboat Classic (20:47) and won the bronze medal at the IAAF World Championships Marathon. Dita then battled Deena Kastor at The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon to finish second in 2:21:30, setting another 35+ world best. In 2005 Dita also achieved one of her greatest victories at the IAAF World Championships Half Marathon running 1:09:17.

Early in 2006 Dita finished classes for her degree back in Romania, so she was short of training and finished seventh at the Flora London Marathon in 2:27:51, below the high standard she had set for herself in recent years. In August she finished 11th in the European Track Championships in the 10,000m (31:49.47). On August 27 she returned to form by placing third at the New York City Half Marathon in an impressive 1:10:11. And on October 8 she challenged Lornah Kiplagat in the IAAF World Road Running Championship 20K. Both Kiplagat and Dita broke the World Record for the distance, but Kiplagat snatched the win by two seconds. Dita's impressive finish time was 1:03:23.

At The 2006 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon, Dita seized the lead from the gun, establishing a near-world-record pace. She went through the half in 1:08:07 – faster than her PR – but after building a lead of more than two minutes, Dita began to fade, ultimately finishing fifth in 2:24:25. It should also be noted that Chicago had official timing and certification for the 25K and 30K splits and Dita's times (1:21:31 and 1:38:30) were better than the official IAAF world records, but a doping test problem prevented them from ratification.

Continuing to defy age, Dita placed third at the 2007 Flora London Marathon in 2:23:55 at the age of 37 and prior to the Olympics in 2008 had a ninth place 2:28:15 at Osaka and eighth place at London.

PERSONAL NOTES:

Constantina Dita was born in Turburea, Romania. She is was married to her coach Valeriu Tomescu; but they were divorced in 2008. They have a son Raphael born in 1995. Dita is a former handball player and is known by the nickname "Pusha." In February 2006 she received a Bachelor's Degree in Sports and Physical Education from the Bucharest Sports Academy.

On January 31, 2009 Dita was recognized with the "Premiul National Pentru Sport," or national sports award, her nation's most prestigious athletic honor. It is extremely special in that athletes can only receive the award once in their lives. Previous recipients include Romanian sports icons such as Olympic gold medalists Nadia Comaneci (gymnastics) and Iolanda Balas (high jump) and tennis great Ilie Nastase.

In a gala ceremony presided over by Romanian President Traian Basescu, Dita received a standing ovation and said, "I am extremely happy to be awarded with this prize. It is really an honor to be placed alongside all those sportsmen and sportswomen who have received this award since 1933."