Rosa Maria Correia dos Santos Mota, born June 29, 1958 is a Portuguese former marathon runner, one of her country's foremost athletes. She is also considered to have been one of the best marathon runners of the 20th century.
Born in Porto's downtown neighbourhood of Foz Velha, she started participating in cross-country races while in high-school.
In 1980 she met Pedro Pedrosa, the man that would eventually be her personal trainer for her entire career. The European Championships of 1982 was hosted by Athens, Greece; it was the first Women's Marathon ever, and also Rosa Mota's first marathon. She 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 Los Angeles Olympic Games. Her personal best time was 2:23:29 in the 1985 Chicago Marathon.
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 Lisbon Half Marathon 1991.
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.