This day in sports: Mary Decker breaks American record in women’s 1,500 meters

Mary Decker crosses the finish line at the Millrose Games in New York to win the women's 1,500 meters on Feb. 9, 1980.
Mary Decker wins the women’s 1,500-meter event at the Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden in New York on Feb. 9, 1980. Later that year, she would break the record at a meet in Stuttgart, West Germany.
(Richard Drew / Associated Press)

Running unchallenged, Mary Decker breaks the American record in the women’s 1,500 meters on this date in 1980 in a time of 4:01.17 during an international track and field meet at Stuttgart, West Germany.

Decker’s mark is the highlight of a two-day competition for the U.S. Olympic team, which is boycotting the Summer Games in Moscow.

Decker, 21, a sensation as a teenager in the 1970s but hampered by injuries, beats the American record of 4:02.61 set by Jan Merrill at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.


“I felt I had a lot left at the finish and if I had been challenged I felt I could respond,” Decker said after the race.

Here’s a look at some of the greatest moments in sports history to have occurred on July 7, including Steve Scott lowering his U.S. mile record in 1982.

Here is a look at memorable games and outstanding sports performances on this date:

1901 Cy Young of the Boston Americans — also known as the Beaneaters but who eventually become the Red Sox—wins his 300th game in a 5-3 decision over the Philadelphia Athletics at Huntington Grounds in Boston. Young gives up seven hits in the game in which John McPherson of the Athletics makes his major league debut. Young would go on to win 211 more games for a career total of 511, the most in baseball history.

1930 — Bobby Jones wins the U.S. Open for the fourth time when he beats Macdonald Smith by two strokes at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minn. Jones, an amateur who had earlier won the British Open and the British Amateur titles, would complete the unprecedented Grand Slam of golf by winning the American Amateur later in the year.

1964 Mickey Wright wins the U.S. Women’s Open for the fourth time when she defeats Ruth Jessen by two strokes in an 18-hole playoff at the San Diego Country Club in Chula Vista.

1970 — Jack Nicklaus wins his second British Open, beating Doug Sanders by a stroke in an 18-hole playoff at the Old Course at St Andrews, Scotland. Sanders misses a three-foot putt in regulation the day before that would have given him the tournament. In the extra round, Nicklaus makes a birdie on No. 18 to finish at 72, one better than Sanders’ 73.

1975 — Tom Watson wins an 18-hole playoff by a stroke over Jack Newton of Australia to take the British Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland. Watson forced the playoff a day earlier when he sank a 25-foot putt on the 72nd hole of regulation. It is the first of Watson’s eight major championship, including five wins at the British Open. It is also the last 18-hole Open playoff. The format is changed to a four-hole aggregate in 1985.

1998 France wins its first World Cup championship when it beats heavily favored Brazil 3-0 at Stade de France in Saint-Denis. Zinedine Zidane scores two goals and Emmanuel Petit adds a third for the host country. The French defense, which had surrendered just two goals in the earlier rounds, bottles up the powerful Brazilian offense led by Ronaldo, Bebeto and Rivaldo.

1999 — The U.S. men’s basketball team wins its sixth straight World University Games gold medal and 40th straight game — both records — when it rolls over Yugoslavia 79-65 in the final at Mallorca, Spain. Coached by Dayton’s Oliver Purrnell, the U.S. is led by Kenyon Martin, who scores 21 points and grabs 11 rebounds.

A look at what happened in sports history on July 3 including multiple 100-meter dash records falling on the same day at the National Sports Festival in 1983.

2012 — Every country’s team at the Summer Games in London includes female athletes for the first time in Olympic history when Saudi Arabia agrees to send two women to compete in judo and track and field. Saudi Arabia joins Qatar and Brunei as the last countries to enter women in Olympic competition. For Saudi Arabia, Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Sharkhani enters the judo completion and Sarah Attar competed in the 800 meters in track and field.

2016 — Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals hits a home run and drives in two, and teammate Salvador Perez hits a two-run blast to lead the American League to its fourth straight All-Star game victory when it beats the National League 4-2 at Petco Park in San Diego. The win assures the AL of home-field advantage in the World Series. Hosmer’s and Perez’s home runs come off former Royals teammate Johnny Cueto. The Angels’ Mike Trout advances his All-Star game hitting streak to five with a single in the first inning.

SOURCES: The Times, Associated Press