Mary Decker and Zola Budd get tangled up

Los Angeles was host to the Summer Olympics 25 years ago. This 14th part of a 16-day series looks back at Friday, Aug. 10, 1984.


The big news

It was the fall heard around the world. Mary Decker set out to win the gold medal in the 3,000 meters, but fell short of that -- literally. Decker became tangled midway through the race with Zola Budd. Decker fell and pulled her left hip muscle, preventing her from finishing. "It was like I was tied to the ground," she said that day. Budd, who ran barefoot, eventually finished seventh, slowed by a cut after the collision. Decker initially blamed her loss on Budd. However, the International Amateur Athletic Federation, which governed track and field and supplied the officials for most major international competitions, ruled that Budd was not to blame.


The big surprise

The U.S. men's water polo team blew a 5-2 third-quarter lead as Yugoslavia scored three times in the final three minutes to tie, costing the U.S. the gold medal because Yugoslavia had a plus-14 goal differential to the U.S.'s plus-nine. Many consider it the best water polo team the U.S. had fielded since 1904, and they had not lost a match in these Olympics.



Joe Vargas, who gave the U.S. a 4-2 advantage in that game, now lives in Seal Beach and works as a commercial real estate broker. Although he has fond memories of the Coliseum, Vargas also said last month at an event commemorating the 1984 Olympic Games that returning there "reminds me that I'm second place. It reminds me every day that I'm second place when I drive by here. [But] it keeps me constantly trying to win."


From the archives

"Carl Lewis is never going to work in a playground for $30 a week. He's never going to pick up anyone else's towels. He's never going to have to race horses or shine shoes or sweep floors or work a circus. He's going to be a corporation, not make speeches for one. He doesn't need Hitler to make him famous; ABC will take up the slack. But he has already shown a lack of feel for history, a degree of aloofness that may blur his place in it." -- Columnist Jim Murray in the Aug. 10 Los Angeles Times on how Jesse Owens will never have an equal


Spotlight on

The U.S. men's basketball team won the gold medal by defeating Spain, 96-65, at the Great Western Forum. The team, coached by Bob Knight, featured Patrick Ewing and Michael Jordan, who scored 20 points in the title game. "I have one word to say about the Russians," Knight said in a farewell interview after winning the gold medal. "You people have never seen the Russians play, and I've been watching them for two years. The Russians wouldn't have won here. They can't play defense. They couldn't have beaten some of the teams in this tournament, and if you guys don't know that, you're not as smart as I think . . . and I don't think you're too smart, anyway."

-- Mario Aguirre

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