Constantina Tomescu of Romania won the gold medal in the Beijing Olympics marathon as world record holder Paula Radcliffe flopped again on the big stage. ( dpa )
Tomenscu, 36, ran away from her rivals at the halfway mark, just as Radcliffe had to step aside for a quick "pit stop." She never looked back en route to victory in comfortably cool conditions and light drizzle at times in 2 hours 26 minutes 44 seconds.
The reigning world champion Catherine Ndereba of Kenya repeated her silver performance of 2004 in the race from Tiananmen Square through Beijing to the National Stadium, clocking 2:27:06. The bronze went to China's Zhou Chunxi in 2:27.07.
The 2005 world champion Radcliffe, who was coming into the race off a stress fracture, failed again at the Olympics. She cramped late in the race far behind the leader and had faded outside the top 20 when Tomescu crossed the finish line.
Tomescu is the first European woman to win the Olympic marathon since Valentina Yegorova's success 1992 in Barcelona. Her biggest claim to fame until Sunday was victory in the 2004 Chicago marathon, two podium finishes each in London and Chicago and third place at the 2005 worlds.