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Mary Decker

Decker's Legacy

While many will undoubtedly remember Decker for the medals that got away, her consistent and impressive record for middle-distance running has made her a star—Olympic medal or not. Decker started her career at the ripe age of eleven and began setting world records in her teens. More than three decades later, with a teenage daughter of her own, Decker continued to impress her peers with her relentless drive. Decker remained competitive in her sport despite her advancing age, a host of injuries, more than twenty operations and exercise-induced asthma. Decker will long be remembered for her determination and never-wavering commitment to running, as well as her sheer athletic talent. Decker is the rare athlete who is born with both stunning natural ability and limitless drive, a potent combination which, for Decker, led to countless records and a hard-won respect.

Triumph and Tragedy in Los Angeles

Decker sensed Budd drifting to the inside. "She tried to cut in without being, basically, ahead," Decker would say. But Decker didn't do what a seasoned middle-distance runner would have done. She didn't reach out to Budd's shoulder to let her know she was there, too close behind for Budd to move to the pole.

Instead, Decker shortened her stride for a couple of steps. There was contact. Decker's right thigh grazed Budd's left foot. Budd took five more strides, slightly off balance. Trying to regain control, she swayed in slightly to the left. Decker's right foot struck Budd's left calf, low, just above the Achilles tendon. Budd's left leg shot out, and she was near falling.

But Decker was falling, tripped by that leg all askew. "To keep from pushing her, I fell," she would say. She reached out after Budd, inadvertently tearing the number from her back and went headlong across the rail onto the infield.

Decker's competitiveness is without limit. "My first thought was, 'I have to get up.'" she said. But when she tried, "It felt like I was tied to the ground." She had a pulled gluteus, the hip stabilizer muscle…. Hers wasthe horrible realization that once again, in the race she'd been denied by injury and boycott for eight years, she was being denied any chance of a conclusion of her own making.

Source: Moore, Kenny. Sports Illustrated (August 20, 1984): 22.

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Famous Sports StarsTrack and FieldMary Decker Biography - Little Mary, Olympic Struggles, Repairing The Damage, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments, Decker's Legacy - CONTACT INFORMATION