​Mary Decker Slaney Documentary: The Slaney “Runner” Story​​

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August 15, 2021 | 7:02 am

Mary Decker Slaney saw a rising star dominating her opponents most of the time as she watched it all unfold in a new documentary. ESPN will air the Slaney story called “Runner,” which reveals a happy to heartbroken athlete.

“It’s almost like looking at someone else’s life,” Slaney said in a phone interview from her home in Eugene, Ore.

The film chronicles Slaney’s career from when she burst on the scene, going from this fresh-faced kid with all the promise in the world to that infamous day in Los Angeles, where Zola Budd accidentally tripped her late in the race.

Back then, Slaney (known as Decker) was incensed at Budd for cutting her off.

Over the years, their relationship has gotten better.

“We’ve always been friendly to each other, possibly maybe we haven’t been friendlier because, well, of the whole situation,” Slaney said. “It’s really not what it was made out to be way back then.”

Even all these years later, Slaney is still asked the same question about that moment: Would she cry as much as she did?

Definitely, she always answers, because it hurt that much. That day in LA was her best shot at an Olympic medal she would never win.

“I worked my whole life for something that was gone in an instant,” said Slaney, who qualified for four Olympic teams. “People don’t even realize how quickly it happened until they see it happen. It’s not slow motion. Of course, I was crying. I’m not ashamed of crying.

“But I’m part of Olympic history — more notorious than great. You take what you get. That’s what I got. But I feel like I had a pretty strong career, otherwise.”

Slaney still pays attention to track, especially a middle-distance prodigy named Mary Cain, a 17-year-old training with Alberto Salazar. Cain frequently draws comparisons to Slaney, and is trying to become the youngest woman ever to medal in the 1,500 at the worlds this week in Moscow.

“She sounds like a pretty neat kid. I think it’s time we have someone come along that’s ready to make the next leap for Americans,” Slaney said. “I’m actually excited for this new Mary, because the old Mary fell short.”

At the ’84 Olympics, Slaney was the overwhelming favorite to win gold in the 3,000. In one of the most memorable moments in Olympic history, Budd passed Slaney and moved back inside, clipping Slaney and sending her tumbling to the track.