Olympic Reflections: Constantina Tomescu

Tom Flynn


As Beijing recedes, I was sifting through the detritus for a nation or athlete that reminded me most of Rodal in the 1996 games. Of course there were a few as it is fair to say that there are and always will be those like Vebjorn who rise to the Olympic occasion with the small but focused tide of their country’s support behind them.

First I looked to the 800 meters where I found that Rodal’s Olympic record stayed well intact and that the anticipated front runners ran in front. No major surprises there amongst the medals. Usain Bolt comes from tiny Jamaica and his unparalleled dominance in the sprints surely had his fellow countrymen reveling in unison, but he’d set the world record coming into the games so only his dominance, not his triumph, was surprising. The Jamaican women jointly shone as brightly as Bolt.

I’ll go with Constantina Tomescu of Romania, who won the gold in the women’s marathon. Her country’s modest medal take (8) is roughly Norwegian in scale (Norway happily racked up 10, including 3 golds that eluded SI’s pre-games radar). Personally, she took a 3rd at her last World Championships (ala Rodal) and then peaked at the Olympics. Toss in that she’s 38 and most certainly her greatest chapter has been written here at these Games with a stunning victory already etched in her nation’s athletic lore.

-Tom Flynn

*(see Flynn’s pre Olympic piece Gold Free Games)