It was in the streets of Foz that she ran the first races that led her to the worldwide consecration in athletics tracks around the world. The women’s marathon gold medal she won at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 was the highest moment of a life dedicated to sport.
Short, slim and with a distinct smile, Rosa Mota is one of the most popular Portuguese athletes, combining an impressive career in athletics with her congeniality and humble demeanor that prevails, even after all her achievements.
She was born in Foz do Douro, Oporto, on June 26, 1958 and it is said that she began to run around the streets of Foz not because she enjoyed it, but because she was afraid of the dark. When in high school, she dedicated herself to sports earnestly, having practiced swimming and cycling. However, she chose athletics, because such a modality was less expensive. The national records in 300 and 1500 meters were her first steps of a career that later developed into the most demanding physical race: the marathon.
Her first club was Futebol Clube da Foz, where she remained for three years. In 1978 she moved to FC Porto, but a health problem forced her to leave the club two years later. She then met Dr. José Pedrosa, who would later became her coach and husband.
In 1982 she began a new stage in her career; she began to compete for Porto Athletics Club. Between 1981 and 1991 (when she finished her career) she had participated in 21 marathons, having won 14. She was bronze medalist in the marathon of the Los Angeles Olympics (1984) and four years later in Seoul, she conquered the top of the podium in the marathon.
Despite having finished her sports career, Rosa Mota continues linked to athletics, has sponsored several events, running for solidarity causes or participating in initiatives that aim to promote sport and healthy living.
In addition to receiving several awards from the Portuguese Government and being still very much cherished by the Portuguese people, Rosa Mota will remain forever linked to the History of the city of Oporto, since in 1991 her name was assigned to the pavilion previously designated as Pavilion of Sports.
Her international prestige is equally immense. In 2012 Rosa Mota was distinguished by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) and in 2004 the Portuguese athlete carried the Olympic flame through the streets of Athens before the Olympic Games. In the Olympic Games of Rio (2016), she participated in the Olympic torch relay.
Rosa Mota’s 14 wins in marathons
12/9/82 – Athens, 2 h 36.04 s (European Champion);
9/4/83 – Rotterdam, 2 h 32.27 s;
10/16/83 – Chicago, 2 h 31.12 sec;
10/21/84 – Chicago, 2 h 26.01 s;
26/8/86 – Stuttgart, 2 h 28.38 s (European Champion);
11/16/86 – Tokyo, 2 h 27.15 s;
4/20/87 – Boston, 2 h 25:21 s;
20/8/87 – Rome, 2 h 25.17 s (World Champion);
4/18/88 – Boston, 2:24 a.m.
9/23/88 – Seoul, 2 h 25.28 s (Olympic Champion);
28/1/90 – Osaka, 2 h 27.47 s;
4/4/90 – Boston, 2 h 25.24 s;
27/8/90 – Split, 2 h 31.27 s, (European Champion);
21/4/91 – London, 2 h 26.14 s (World Cup).