Image: Mary Decker Slaney Biopic Looks at Career Robbed of Olympic Gold

Mary Decker Slaney Biopic Looks at Career Robbed of Olympic Gold

Wednesday, 14 Aug 2013 12:59 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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It's been nearly 30 years since Mary Decker Slaney collided with Zola Budd in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and now a new ESPN biopic on the athlete shines a spotlight on probably the country's greatest runner to never win an Olympic medal.

Documentary film maker Shola Lynch made the Mary Decker Slaney biopic called "Runner" as part of ESPN Films "Nine for IX" documentary series that focuses on female athletes, according to The Associated Press.

The collision with the rival South African runner in the, 3,000-meter race in front of a packed crowd in the Los Angeles Coliseum robbed Slaney of her best shot at Olympic gold, with photos and video showing her shocked about what happened.

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"It’s almost like looking at someone else's life," Slaney told the AP in a phone interview from her home in Eugene, Ore. "I worked my whole life for something that was gone in an instant. People don’t even realize how quickly it happened until they see it happen. It’s not slow motion. Of course, I was crying. I’m not ashamed of crying."

In the 1970s, Slaney, who will turn 55 in Aug. 4, was a running phenom in junior high school and considered a world-class runner by the time she reached high school.

At one point Slaney owned every American record from 800 to 10,000 meters, according to ESPNW.  She still holds the U.S. marks for the 1,500, the mile and 3,000. In 1982 alone, she set six world records in distances ranging from a mile to 10,000 meters.

In 1983, she won both the 1,500 and 3,000-meter titles at the first World Championships beating the best runners the Soviet Union had at the time, making her the undisputed favorite for gold in the 1984 Olympics.

"I wasn't aware of it then, but now I realize that I gave younger girls some inspiration," Slaney told ESPNW. "Someone who they could look at and say, 'I want to be as good or better than her.'"

Slaney married British discus thrower Richard Slaney, in 1985 and had a daughter, Ashley, in 1986.

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Slaney's relationship with Budd has improved over the years.

"We’ve always been friendly to each other, possibly maybe we haven’t been friendlier because, well, of the whole situation," Slaney told the AP. "It’s really not what it was made out to be way back then."

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