America's former middle-distance sweetheart has settled contentedly into country life
THOUGH SHE set four world records in 1980, Mary Decker Slaney has one big regret from that year: missing a chance at Olympic gold because of the U.S. boycott of the Moscow Games. "As an athlete you know the effort and energy it takes to make the Olympics," she says. "It was really hard."
Four years later in Los Angeles, SI's 1983 Sportsman of the Year, then known simply as Mary Decker, had the defining moment of her career. In the 3,000 final she got tangled up with barefoot South African runner Zola Budd (who was competing for Great Britain) and fell. As the race continued, the American wept in anguish on the infield, having again seen her Olympic chance slip away. "Looking back, 1984 seems to have been the year I should have won a medal," says Decker Slaney. "But it's not one person's fault. It's a lot about how I ran the race. It was a strategic mistake on my part, and also inexperience on her part."
The next year she married British Olympic discus thrower Richard Slaney. Last January the two moved to a 55-acre spread in Eugene, Ore., where Decker Slaney has lived since 1980. Daughter Ashley left home last summer to attend UC San Diego. (She's a dancer, not a runner.) Decker Slaney, 47, goes on five-mile jogs at a seven-minute-mile pace--"active rest," she calls it--several days a week and gets additional exercise walking her three weimaraners, Athena, Cleo and Ranger. For the moment she is content as a homebody; sewing is a hobby. "I've always wanted to live in the country--I think it's perfect," she says. "I'm proud of the things I've done, but you evolve with life, and I have so much more life ahead of me." -- Julia Morrill
His last name means 'king' in Japanese, and after belting a record 868 homers, that's how he's treated
BEFORE THERE was Ichiro there was Sadaharu Oh, who honed his home run stroke by swinging a samurai sword until he could cut a straw doll in half with one slice. In 1980--Oh's 22nd and final season with Japan's Yomiuri Giants--he hit his 868th career homer, putting him 113 in front of Hank Aaron's major league record.
Oh, a 5'11", 173-pound lefty, was known for an unorthodox batting motion in which he lifted his right foot and leaned back just before swinging--much like Mel Ott. Oh averaged a dinger once every 11 at bats. He won nine Central League MVPs, two triple crowns and 11 league titles. A solid first baseman and .301 lifetime hitter, he won the batting title five times and also set a Japanese record by hitting 55 home runs in 1964.