Olympic Collision

Olympic Collision

The Story of Mary Decker and Zola Budd

Kyle Keiderling

368 pages
14 photographs


November 2016


$27.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

It remains one of the most memorable moments in modern Olympic history. At the 1984 summer games in Los Angeles, a raucous crowd of ninety thousand saw their favorite in the women’s 3,000-meter race, Mary Decker, go down. An audience of two billion around the world witnessed the mishap and listened to the instantaneous accusations against the suspected culprit, Zola Budd.

Just seventeen, the South African Budd had already been the target of a vicious and vocal campaign by the antiapartheid lobby after she transferred to the British team in order to compete at the games. Decker, at twenty-six, was America’s golden girl, ready to overcome years of bad luck and injuries to rightfully take the Olympic gold for which she had waited so long. With three laps to go, Decker and Budd’s feet became tangled. Decker went down and didn’t get up, wailing in primal agony as her gold medal hopes vanished. Decker’s stumbles continued in the race’s aftermath when she refused Budd’s apology and race officials found her, not Budd, at fault for the collision. Although both women found success after the Olympics, neither could escape the long shadow of the infamous event that forever changed both of their lives and defines them in popular culture to this day.

Olympic Collision follows Decker and Budd through their lives and careers, telling the story behind the controversy; the account that emerges is certain to revise the view Americans, in particular, have held since that fateful day in Los Angeles more than thirty years ago. Olympic Collision relives one of the most famous incidents in Olympic history, its legacy, and what has happened to both athletes since.


Author Bio

Kyle Keiderling is the author of five books, including Heart of a Lion: The Life, Death, and Legacy of Hank Gathers.


"Keiderling provides insight into how the sports machine works and particularly into how athletes remember long-ago events on the field—for they remain fresh to both Decker and Budd, each of whom went on to endure other travails off the track. A sprint down Memory Lane for fans of sports history, particularly sports controversies."—Kirkus

"A fascinating story . . . . Skillfully written with much truth and compassion."—Julian Richfield, Cape Times

"Keiderling does a magnificent job of building up the tension as Decker and Budd's stories move toward their eventual literal collision at the 1984 Olympics."—Pam R. Sailors, Aethlon

"A highly entertaining page-turner and a must read."—Christopher Kelsall, Athletics Illustrated

“A fascinating look behind-the-scenes at one of sport’s most shocking incidents. A tale of greed, human nature, and how it affected two amazingly talented runners.”—Marty Liquori, ABC analyst for the 1984 Olympics and former number one in the world in mile and five-thousand-meter races

"This book is a fascinating insight into the lives of two exceptional runners and will interest both people who remember the event in 1984 when their lives collided, as well as anyone interested in competitive running."—Danielle Sellwood, Sport Sister

"The stories of these two female runners and the one moment that will link the two of them together forever make for a great read."—Window Into Books

"Olympic Collision is absolutely a perfect book that I am going to rave and recommend to one and all."—Underrated Reads

"The stories of these two female runners and the one moment that will link the two of them together forever make for a great read."—Guy Who Reviews Sports Books

"Olympic Collision is absolutely a perfect book that I am going to rave and recommend to one and all."—Underrated Reads

“Kyle Keiderling’s Olympic Collision brings together the incredible backstory, the race-day tension, and the post-event fallout in a compelling narrative.”—Amby Burfoot, Boston Marathon winner (1968), contributing editor to Runner’s World, and author of First Ladies of Running

"Keiderling's book is a gem. . . .  The lives and careers of Decker and Budd provide Keiderling with plenty of material, and he makes full use of this in a fantastic publication."—Steven Pye, 1980s Sports Blog

“Kyle Keiderling has a style of writing that will leave you captivated. His book provides incredible depth beyond one historical Olympic moment.”—Joan Hansen, three-thousand-meter finalist in the 1984 Olympics

“An immensely readable and elegantly written account of the lives and careers of two iconic women distance runners who will always be remembered for their dramatic collision at the Los Angeles Olympics. The penetrating insights it provides into the murky world of politics, illegal drug use, and money in track and field in the 1980s will be of interest well beyond just the running community.”—Richard Mayer, South African athletics writer and historian

Table of Contents

1. Starting Line    
2. First Steps    
3. Off with the Gun    
4. Healing the Body    
5. Dirty Little Secret    
6. Running for Jenny    
7. The Kid Comes Back with a Swoosh    
8. Out of Africa    
9. Gathering Storms    
10. Rings of Fire    
11. Dream Chasers    
12. A Split Second That Will Live Forever    
13. Coming and Going    
14. The Phoenix Rises    
15. World Champ    
16. Rematch    
17. World Champ Again    
18. Mother Mary    
19. Banned    
20. Heart and Seoul    
21. Marriage and Murder    
22. Promoting L’eggs on Bad Legs    
23. Budd Blooms    
24. New Faces, Old Story    
25. Seems Like Old Times    
26. Trials and Tribulations    
27. War and Peace    

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