Aug 13, 2013 on ESPN at 8:00 PM

Watch Nine for IX S01E07 online


The expectations for American distance runner Mary Decker were sky high as she lined up to make her Olympic debut in the 3,000 meters at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. After all, Decker had displayed unwavering dominance in every distance from the 800 t... (more)o 10,000 meters. Her wholesome image graced magazine covers and adorned walls all over the world. And at the age of 25, this was her first Olympics: stress fractures in her leg had kept her out of the 1976 Montreal Olympics and the U.S. boycott prevented her from competing in the 1980 Moscow Olympics. So the 3,000 was to be her coronation, the gold medal that would validate her greatness. As fate would have it, though, there was another compelling figure in the race, a 19-year-old barefooted South African running for Great Britain, Zola Budd. Just past the midway point of the race, Budd crowded Decker on the inside lane, and in the panic and urgency of the moment, they collided. Decker fell to the track with a look of anguish. Budd would regain her stride but finish a distant seventh behind the winner, Romanian Maricica Puica. Decker initially blamed Budd, but in later years they reconciled and tried to get past the collision. Still, the one moment of heartbreak came to define what should have been a glorious career.

Previous episode

The Diplomat
Season 1 Episode 6

Aug 06, 2013

Next episode

The '99ers
Season 1 Episode 8

Aug 20, 2013