Reigning Olympic Marathon champion Constantina Dita of Erie completed her final hard training session this morning, a set of repeat 2,000m intervals, and will fly out on this evening’s British Airways Denver/ London flight to compete in her third Olympic Games.
In Beijing four years ago, the long-time Colorado resident broke away from the field from the 20-kilometer point to win in 2:26:44, including a brilliant 71:33 split for the second half of the race to become at age 38 the oldest woman ever to win an Olympic track and field gold medal, and the first Colorado resident to win since Frank Shorter in 1972.
“Overall my training has gone really well,” Dita commented last night, “but of course there have been a few days when I really feel I am 42 years old! Just last week I did my last long run, a 25 km workout up in Nederland. I was surprised that I was running 25K faster up there at 8,400 feet than I have done some of my 25K workouts here in Erie, which is much lower altitude.”
“For me, I am hoping to run well, and I will do my best. I will fly with my sister Irina, who has helped my training here the past two months. We will stay at a hotel near Hyde Park until I move into the Olympic Village just before the women’s marathon. My son Rafael [who is a student at Erie High School] is hoping to get a tryout with the Rapids next week, so he will fly over to London just a few days before my race.”
Although in London Dita will represent her native Romania, from January last year she became a US citizen. “I was so proud and excited to take the citizenship oath. I’ve been living in Colorado for ten years now. The organizers there also made a nice announcement to everybody about me being the Olympic champion, but for all of us who became Americans that day, it was really special.”
Dita is one of seven athletes represented by Boulder Wave who will race in the women’s Olympic Marathon. Women assisted by Brendan Reilly and Boulder Wave have won the past three consecutive Olympic gold medals in the marathon, and the run of Olympic marathon medals is four straight going back to Yuko Arimori’s bronze medal in Atlanta in 1996. The group this time also includes the reigning marathon world champion, Edna Kiplagat of Kenya, and 2000 Sydney silver medalist Lidia Simon of Boulder, who will become the first woman to have competed in five Olympic marathons.
Reilly comments, “I told our women that it is perfectly within their grasp to come away with at least one of the medals, with three, possibly four, of our women in the top ten. Everybody has trained very well and they are supported by some very devoted and tireless coaches.”
The women’s Olympic Marathon will be on a loop course starting and finishing on the Mall in front of Buckingham Palace. The race start is 11:00 a.m. on August 5th, 4:00 a.m. Colorado time.