Repairing The Damage
Following the Olympics, Decker underwent six weeks of therapy to heal her injuries, which included a pulled hip muscle. Once her body was healed, Decker started training again. At the same time, she married Richard Slaney—a former discus thrower—and tried to move on with her life. Unfortunately, it was not that easy. Besides working to repair the physical injuries she sustained in the Los Angeles Olympics and build up her family life, Decker also worked to repair her image. Although many initially felt bad for Decker after her collision with Budd, public attitude soon changed when Decker refused to acknowledge Budd's apology and maintained her own innocence in the incident. Decker earned the reputation as a bad loser, and received criticism from fellow runners and the news media. Some speculated that Decker's harsh treatment of Budd also cost the runner additional endorsement contracts from major sponsors.
In January 1985, Decker competed at the Sunkist Invitational indoor track meet in Los Angeles—her first race since the Olympic accident. Some of the public still rankled over Decker's unwillingness to apologize, as was evidenced by the combination of boos and cheers that greeted Decker's pre-race introduction. Still, at this event Decker began repairing the damage to her reputation, and her runner's ego. Throughout the 2,000-meter race, Decker steadily increased the lead between her and Ruth Wysocki—who had trounced Decker's attitude in the press in the weeks leading up to the race. By the time the race was over, Decker had broken the world record and finished nearly twelve seconds ahead of Wysocki.
While this race was a crowd pleaser, nothing matched the hype drummed up for the 3,000-meter rematch with Budd, nearly a year after their collision at the Olympics. The event took place at London's Crystal Palace in July 1985. Although Decker and Budd had privately resolved their issues with each other, they both looked forward to the rematch, so they could put the track issue to rest, too. In this memorable race, Decker ran strong from the beginning, and although Budd tried to keep up, Decker buried her after the 2,000-meter mark—and everybody else for that matter. Decker's time was nearly six seconds faster than the second-place finisher, and nearly thirteen seconds faster than Budd's time.
Over the next two decades, Decker continued to surprise the world by remaining competitive despite frequent injuries and the effects of aging. Decker qualified for two more Olympic teams, in 1988 and 1996—the latter when she was 38 years old—although she failed to medal in either of them.