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After the Fall
Franz Lidz
July 15, 2002
Eighteen years removed from her disastrous collision with Mary Decker, the barefoot Afrikaner has once again found joy in running
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July 15, 2002

After The Fall

Eighteen years removed from her disastrous collision with Mary Decker, the barefoot Afrikaner has once again found joy in running

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Budd remains something of a celebrity in Bloemfontein. A small street is named after her, and in township slang a Zola Budd is a reliable, long-distance jitney. One that breaks down often is called a Mary Decker.

It's been 10 years since Decker last spoke to Budd. "It was an accident," says Decker (now Decker Slaney), who lives in Eugene, Ore., with her husband and 16-year-old daughter. "What's to forgive? It's history. Neither of us were happy with the outcome." Budd, who has only recently reconciled herself with her past, remembers the collision as a "nightmare come true. I regret running in Los Angeles—I was too young. If I'd been born a couple of years later, I'd have been just another athlete and not a political pawn. My life would have been so very different. But then, perhaps, my husband and I would never have gotten together."

Marriage and kids have altered her perspective. 'When I was a child, running gave me a means of escape and direction to my life," she says. "But after the clash with Mary, running became a pressure too. I stopped enjoying it. Now the pressure to perform is gone, and I love running the same way I did when I was a schoolgirl."

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