Rosa Mota

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Rosa Mota
Rosa Mota na Exponor.JPG
Rosa Mota in 2012
Personal information
Full nameRosa Maria Correia dos Santos Mota
Born (1958-06-29) 29 June 1958 (age 64)
Porto, Portugal
Height5 ft 2 in (1.57 m)
Weight99 lb (45 kg)
SportTrack and field athletics
Achievements and titles
Olympic finals1988 – Gold

Rosa Maria Correia dos Santos Mota, GCIH, GCM (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈʁɔzɐ ˈmɔtɐ]; born 29 June 1958) is a Portuguese former marathon runner, one of her country's foremost athletes, being the first sportswoman from Portugal to win Olympic gold. Mota was the first woman to win multiple Olympic marathon medals as well as being the only woman to be the reigning European, World, and Olympic champion at the same time. On the 30th Anniversary Gala of the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) she was distinguished as the greatest female marathon runner of all time.[1]


Born in Porto's downtown neighbourhood of Foz Velha, Rosa started participating in cross-country races while in high school.

In 1980 she met José Pedrosa, the man who would eventually be her personal trainer for her entire career. Rosa Mota's first marathon was at the European Championships of 1982, hosted by Athens, Greece - the first Women's Marathon ever. Mota was not one of the favourites for gold, but she easily beat Ingrid Kristiansen to win her first marathon.

This success was typical of Rosa Mota's career, as she usually finished well in the prestigious marathons. She was awarded the bronze medal in the first Women's Olympic Marathon in the Los Angeles Olympic Games. Her personal best time was 2:23:29 in the 1985 Chicago Marathon.[2] Mota won the Chicago Marathon twice.

European Champion in 1986, and World Champion in Rome, 1987, she kept on winning with the Olympic gold medal in Seoul 1988, where with 2 km left in the race, she attacked, winning by 13 seconds from silver medalist Lisa Martin.

In 1990, she returned to Boston to win for a third time beating Uta Pippig. After that she attempted to defend her European Marathon Championship in Split. She ran from the front and had a lead of over 1.5 minutes at the half way mark, but she was caught at the 35 km mark by Valentina Yegorova. They battled to the finish and Mota won by a slim margin of 5 seconds. As of 2006, winning a third European Championships marathon was unprecedented for both men and women. She won the 1991 Lisbon Half Marathon[3]

Despite all her success Rosa Mota was suffering from sciatica and asthma as a child, yet, in 1991, she continued winning, this time the London Marathon. Later that year, Mota had to abandon the Tokyo World championships and she finally considered retirement after failing to finish the 1992 London Marathon.

Mota ran 21 marathon races between 1982 and 1992. She averaged two marathons a year for a decade and won 14 of those races.


Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  Portugal
1982 European Championships Athens, Greece 1st Marathon 2:36:04
1983 Rotterdam Marathon Rotterdam, the Netherlands 1st Marathon 2:32:27
World Championships Helsinki, Finland 4th Marathon 2:31:50
Chicago Marathon Chicago, United States 1st Marathon 2:31:12
1984 Olympic Games Los Angeles, United States 3rd Marathon 2:26:57
Chicago Marathon Chicago, United States 1st Marathon 2:26:01
1985 Chicago Marathon Chicago, United States 3rd Marathon 2:23:29
1986 Tokyo Marathon Tokyo, Japan 1st Marathon 2:27:15
European Championships Stuttgart, West Germany 1st Marathon 2:28:38
1987 Boston Marathon Boston, United States 1st Marathon 2:25:21
World Championships Rome, Italy 1st Marathon 2:25:17
1988 Boston Marathon Boston, United States 1st Marathon 2:24:30
Olympic Games Seoul, South Korea 1st Marathon 2:25:40
1989 Osaka Marathon Osaka, Japan -- Marathon DNF
Los Angeles Marathon Los Angeles, United States 2nd Marathon 2:35:27
1990 Osaka Marathon Osaka, Japan 1st Marathon 2:27:47
Boston Marathon Boston, United States 1st Marathon 2:25:24
European Championships Split, Yugoslavia 1st Marathon 2:31:27
1991 London Marathon London, United Kingdom 1st Marathon 2:26:14
World Championships Tokyo, Japan -- Marathon DNF
Lisbon Half Marathon Lisbon, Portugal 1st Half marathon 1:09:52
1992 London Marathon London, United Kingdom -- Marathon DNF

After retirement[edit]

Mota carrying the IAAF flag at the World Athletics Championships 2007 in Osaka

Considered an Ambassador of Sport, in 1998 she won the Abebe Bikila Award for contributions to the development of long-distance race training. The trophy was awarded at the end of the International Race for Friendship, sponsored by the United Nations, taking place in the morning before the 1998 New York City Marathon.

Rosa Mota was one of the most popular personalities of Portuguese sport in the late 20th century, alongside Eusébio, Carlos Lopes and Luís Figo.

Rosa Mota carried the Olympic flame along the roads of Athens before the 2004 Summer Olympics in Greece.


  1. ^ "AIMS 30th Anniversary Gala". Retrieved 2014-08-10.
  2. ^ Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Rosa Mota". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 2020-04-17.
  3. ^ "Lisbon Half Marathon winners". 2014-03-19. Retrieved 2014-08-10.
Preceded by Nobre Guedes Olympic Medal
Succeeded by