Subject: E. Timor's marathon runner finishes to her own race

Kyodo News Service September 24, 2000, Sunday

E. Timor's marathon runner finishes to her own race


East Timor's marathon runner Aguida Amaral dashed into the Olympic Stadium as the crowd warmly applauded the 28-year-old athlete who looked more an epitome of courage, than a loser, in the Olympic final of the women's marathon Sunday.

Amaral came in 43rd in 3 hours, 10 minutes, 55 seconds, trailing by nearly 50 minutes the time of 2:23:14 posted by gold medalist Naoko Takahashi of Japan. But rather than sporting a defeated look, she was beaming with joy.

'I feel so happy, both for joining the Olympics and finishing the race,' the mother of four said as she expressed her heartfelt appreciation to the crowd who had cheered her on.

Among those who congratulated her at the end of the race -- which she capped with a prayer of thanks -- was Portugal's Rosa Mota, gold medalist in the women's marathon at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

'It was just wonderful. I think we were able to make East Timor known to the world,' an official from the East Timorese Olympic delegation later remarked.

Back home in East Timor's central city of Dili, residents were all glued to their television sets to watch and applaud their compatriot's Olympic performance.

'The will power she has displayed there is enough to give courage to East Timor as this country gears up towards full-fledged independence (next year),' an official of the National Council of the Timorese Resistance (CNRT) said in praise of Amaral.

East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, was invaded by Indonesia in 1975 in a move never recognized by the United Nations. The territory was thrown into political chaos and bloodshed following last year's vote for independence.

The currently U.N.-administered territory made history when its four athletes, competing as individuals under the Olympic flag, appeared for the first time in the Games' opening ceremony Sept. 15.

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