Ranked number one in the world in the 100-meter dash at age twenty-three, Ashford believed she was in the prime of her career as the time neared for the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, USSR. However, along with dozens of other American athletes, Ashford was devastated when President Jimmy Carter announced a U.S. boycott of the Olympics in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Ashford abandoned her training, and she and her husband, Ray Washington, spent the summer traveling around the United States and visiting relatives. However, Ashford soon set her sights on the 1984 Games. She took first place in the 1981 World Cup in both 100- and 200-meter races and was the U.S. National Champion in 1983, in both sprints. However, after winning her first two 100-meter races in the 1983 World Championships, she pulled her right hamstring muscle and fell in the final race. The injury stayed with her into 1984 and was still bothering her as the Olympics began.