Natalie Pinkham: 1984 Olympics, Zola Budd v. Mary Decker

My earliest and most enduring sporting memory is the 1984 LA Olympics when Zola Budd took on US athlete Mary Decker Slaney in the 3,000m.

I was only 6 years old, but I remember sitting cross legged on the floor in front of the telly, watching with my Dad John. Zola Budd was my hero growing up. I loved how she ran barefoot. In fact I used to run everywhere barefoot because of her. Decker and Budd collided, knocking the local sweetheart out of the race, and the blame was firmly put on Budd. Budd was 'adopted' by GB because of the anti apartheid ruling, which prevented SA athletes taking part.

I remember being mortified that Budd was being booed by the crowd and eventually limped in, in 7th when she had been tipped to win Gold. Dad said to me then, this is your first lesson in life, it's not always fair; but you have to fight on.

Fast forward 20 years and I met and interviewed Zola Budd. I think she was a bit taken aback by how interested I was in her, and her career. I still run barefoot whenever I can in her honour!

Natalie Pinkham

Follow on Twitter @NataliePinkham


Natalie shared this memory in support of the Sporting Memories Network. Read her profile page here

Memory added on June 22, 2013

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