South African runner Zola Budd has told a Seattle television station she deliberately slowed down to avoid winning the women's 3,000 meters in the 1984 Olympic Games because she didn't want to be booed if she won the race after colliding with Mary Decker Slaney.
Budd said she heard the boos of the crowd in the Los Angeles Coliseum as she continued to run after the collision. She finished seventh.
"I just felt I didn't want to stand on the (winner's) rostrum. I knew I could have won a medal," Budd said in an interview broadcast Wednesday by KING-TV.
"I think the people would have booed again," Budd said. "I didn't want any of that. So I ran slower, not to get a medal."
The interview, conducted last week in Guildford, England, is part of a documentary that KING-TV will air later this month on Slaney and Budd.
"I just felt bad about the whole incident because it ruined my race as well," Budd said. "I just wanted to stop. Maybe it would have been better if I had stopped in the race."
Pieter Labuschagne, Budd's coach, said Budd told him the reason for her poor finish after the race. "She just wanted not to finish in the first three, to get out of the central point of attention again because she knew she would be standing on the podium and people would be booing," Labuschagne said.
"There were people speculating that Zola was tired at the end, but that was not the case. They don't understand athletes. They don't know Zola. She was, with a purpose, running slowly on the last lap to get out of it all."