The two main actors in one of the biggest dramas at the 1984 Los Angeles Games recently reunited to film a documentary chronicling their controversial race.
American Mary Decker, 26, was the gold-medal favorite in the women’s 3,000m race, and she was expected to be challenged by Zola Budd, an 18-year-old barefoot runner from South Africa who controversially received British citizenship earlier that year. She applied for the citizenship on the basis of her grandfather being British because South Africa at the time was banned from the Olympics due to apartheid.
Decker led most of the way, but about halfway through, she tripped over Budd’s feet. Speculation began immediately over whether Budd intentionally stepped in front of Decker. Regardless, Decker could not finish the race and Budd let up amidst booing in the stadium and finished seventh. Maricica Puica of Romania won gold.
The 90-minute film, titled “The Fall,” is Decker and Budd’s first reunion in more than 30 years. It will premiere in London on July 27 and be shown across the U.K. beginning July 29, also airing on Sky Atlantic.
“I knew making this film would be opening up the black box in my mind which I haven’t opened since that day,” Budd told Variety.com. “I thought it was time.”
“I still think about that race every day. Making this film has been cathartic,” Decker said.
Here’s a trailer for the film:
And you can watch the full race from the 1984 Games here.
Budd now lives in the U.S. and goes by her married name, Zola Pieterse. She is an assistant cross country and track and field coach at Coastal Carolina, and is still an avid runner herself. In March, she finished a 10,000-meter run in under 39 minutes and beat the next finisher by more than 30 seconds.
Decker now lives in Oregon and goes by her married name, Mary Slaney. She suffers from arthritis but stays competitive with an ElliptiGo, which is a combination of an elliptical machine and bicycle.