Beaten, But Not Defeated

The Olympics celebrate the triumph of motion, the powerful upward thrust of a weight lifter, the gravity-defying spring of a pole vaulter, even the twirling toes of a flock of synchronized swimmers. So when Mongolia's sole female marathoner, Luvsanlkhundeg Otgonbayar, appeared at the entrance of a massive marble stadium unveiled in 1896 for Athens' first modern Olympics, it was impossible not to be taken aback by her almost imperceptible pace. More than an hour had passed since Japan's Mizuki Noguchi, a 40-kg wisp, had fluttered into the stadium, vomited and smoothed back her hair to accept the gold with a time...