Mary Decker Slaney Biopic ‘Runner’ Premieres On ESPN

The Mary Decker Slaney biopic Runner premiered Tuesday night on ESPN. If you missed it, hit that button to see a key clip from the Nine For IX documentary by Shola Lynch.

Slaney is the unfortunate American runner at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles who got famous for being clipped by competitor Zola Budd, falling, and crying. She turned 55 on August 4, so she’s had almost 30 years to get used to it.

But you can still sense some frustration when Mary Decker Slaney talked to ESPN about the new film:

“I never had a successful Olympics despite being on four Olympic teams…But that wasn’t supposed to be my path, I guess. I don’t dislike my life or myself — or anyone else for that matter — because of ’84. That’s just what happened.”

The runner now claims to hold no more bad feeling against South African competitor Zola Budd. But, at the time, Slaney tried and very briefly succeeded in getting Budd disqualified.

“I worked my whole life for something that was gone in an instant,” she said then.

She had already missed the 1980 Olympics in Moscow thanks to the US boycott that year. As late as age 37, she qualified for the 5000 meters in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. But she became involved in a doping controversy and also experienced multiple stress fractures that led to the end of her running career.

An attempt to get back in the game at age 42 with surgery to reroute some tendons only made matters worse. She told ESPN that she had trouble walking for the next year.

Despite being known as the chick who fell down and cried, Mary Decker Slaney was actually one of the top American women runners — and she still holds unbroken American records for the middle distance.

[thumbnail photo by Pojoslaw via Shutterstock]

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