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Chicago Marathon fuels Olympic dreams

by Kim Peiffer and Matt Doyle
Oct 09, 2008

Chicago Marathon Dedication

Matt Doyle/Medill

Gold Medalist

Matt Doyle/Medill

Beijing gold medal winner Constantina Tomescu-Dita expresses her support for Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid.

Daley and Herseth

Matt Doyle/Medill

Mary Jo Herseth presents Mayor Richard M. Daley with a mural of Chicago after dedicating the 2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon to Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid.

Olympians gathered together at a press conference Thursday morning to promote this weekend's Bank of America Chicago Marathon, but they also had their eyes on promoting Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics Games.

Organizers announced that this year’s marathon will be dedicated to helping Chicago earn the 2016 Summer Olympic Games bid.

Mary Jo Herseth, a Bank of America executive, said,. "With this dedication, and by integrating many Olympic elements into race day, we felt this was a unique way to expand on our financial support and leadership to the city’s exciting endeavor.”

She was joined at the podium by  Carey Pinkowski, marathon director; Doug Arnot, Chicago 2016 director of venues and game operations; Olympians Deena Kastor and Constantina Tomescu-Dita, and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

“I applaud Bank of America for dedicating this year’s race to Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic games,” Daley said. “It is wonderful that Bank of America and its family has demonstrated support for our bid by inviting Olympians to play a number of honorary roles during the marathon.”

Arnot said having Mayor Daley’s support is essential:. "We're very fortunate to have somebody who understands the importance of the Olympic Games and what it can mean to the city and to the country and the world."

He said Chicago 2016 continues to receive ongoing support from the corporate community in the city and across the nation. "We are happy Chicago 2016 and Bank of America could work on so many activities together to engage runners, spectators and to rally the entire community around the nation on this bid."

This year runners will witness Olympians serving as honorary starters and as hosts during the awards ceremony. Also, runners who complete the marathon could be greeted by Olympians at the finish line as they distribute various medals, Daley said.

"Throughout the weekend you'll see many Olympians around supporting the bid for the 2016 games," said Olympic marathon runner  Kastor, of Mammoth, Calif..

Newly crowned 2008 marathon gold medalistTomescu-Dita, of Romania,  said she was happy to have the opportunity to run less than two months after winning the gold medal in Beijing. "I am very happy to come back here this year for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.”

Tomescu-Dita also expressed support for Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid. "I would be very happy to be here for the Olympic Games in 2016."