This day in sports: Mary Decker falls in 3,000-meter final at 1984 L.A. Olympics

American runner Mary Decker gets tangled up with South Africa’s Zola Budd and falls in the women’s 3,000-meter final during the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles at the Coliseum.  (Hiram Clawson / Los Angeles Times)

Just into the second half of the women’s 3,000-meter race at the Los Angeles Olympics on this date in 1984, Mary Decker of the United States and Zola Budd of South Africa got their feet tangled and the contact knocked Decker into the Coliseum’s infield and out of the race.

Budd, who was running for Great Britain, stumbled but regained her balance while Decker tumbled to the ground, tearing the number off of Budd’s back as she fell. Decker struggled for a moment to regain her footing, but collapsed in tears on her back.

She was diagnosed with a pulled left hip muscle, and later said, “It was like I was tied to the ground.”

Maricica Puica of Romania won the race and Budd finished seventh.

More memorable games and outstanding sports performances on Aug. 10 through the years:

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