This day in sports: Mary Decker falls in 3,000-meter final at 1984 L.A. Olympics

Mary Decker gets tangled up with Zola Budd and falls in the women's 3,000 meters.
American runner Mary Decker gets tangled up with South Africa’s Zola Budd and falls in the women’s 3,000-meter final during the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles at the Coliseum.
(Hiram Clawson / Los Angeles Times)

Just into the second half of the women’s 3,000-meter race at the Los Angeles Olympics on this date in 1984, Mary Decker of the United States and Zola Budd of South Africa got their feet tangled and the contact knocked Decker into the Coliseum’s infield and out of the race.

Budd, who was running for Great Britain, stumbled but regained her balance while Decker tumbled to the ground, tearing the number off of Budd’s back as she fell. Decker struggled for a moment to regain her footing, but collapsed in tears on her back.

She was diagnosed with a pulled left hip muscle, and later said, “It was like I was tied to the ground.”


Maricica Puica of Romania won the race and Budd finished seventh.

Hall of Famer Paul Westphal, the legendary basketball player from Southern California, has been diagnosed with brain cancer, friend Mike Lupica said.

Aug. 9, 2020

More memorable games and outstanding sports performances on Aug. 10 through the years:

1949 — Ezzard Charles, known as the Cincinnati Cobra, knocked out Gus Lesnevich, the former light-heavyweight champion, in the eighth round at Yankee Stadium in his first defense of his world heavyweight title. Charles had won the vacant heavyweight title less than two months earlier when he outpointed “Jersey Joe” Walcott to win a 15-round decision.

1969 — Cesar Tovar of the Minnesota Twins broke up the second no-hit bid against his team by a Baltimore Orioles pitcher when he singled with none out in the ninth inning off of left-hander Mike Cuellar. The hit also ended Cuellar’s streak of 35-straight batters retired. Earlier in the season, Tovar got a single with one out in the ninth to spoil left-hander Dave McNally’s no-hit bid.

1975 — Jack Nicklaus won the PGA Championship for the fourth time when he beat Bruce Crampton and Tom Weiskopf by two strokes on the south course of the Firestone Golf Club in Akron, Ohio. The victory was Nicklaus’ second major championship of the year after he had won the Masters in April. He shot a 72-hole total of 276 and it was the fourth time that Crampton finished second in a major tournament, and each time Nicklaus was the winner.

1987 — Kevin Gross of the Philadelphia Phillies was ejected in the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs after umpires found a strip of sandpaper glued to the heel of his glove he used to scuff the baseball. The Phillies had a 4-2 lead at the time and Gross was suspended for 10 games the next day. Less than a week earlier, Joe Niekro of the Minnesota Twins was caught with an emery board and a piece of sandpaper in his pocket during a game against the Angels at Anaheim Stadium. Niekro also received a 10-game suspension.

1995 — Ball Night at Dodger Stadium, which drew a crowd of 53,351, turned into the first forfeit in the major leagues in 16 years when the Dodgers lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1 after fans threw souvenir baseballs onto the field three times in protest of an umpire’s call and player ejections. The game, which was in the middle of the pennant race, was called with one out in the ninth even though no warning was issued for the fans to stop.

1996 — In one of thoroughbred racing’s biggest upsets, Cigar’s bid for a 17th straight victory ended when 39-1 longshot Dare and Go passed the great 6-year-old bay at the top of the stretch and pulled away to win the $1-million Pacific Classic at Del Mar Racetrack. Cigar finished 3 1/2 lengths behind Dare and Go, the son of Alydar and the grandson of Secretariat. Cigar was making a bid to break a tie with Citation for the all-time win streak by a North American-based horse in the 20th century.


2008 — Padraig Harrington of Ireland rallied from three shots down to win the PGA Championship when he shot a four-under par 66 at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield, Mich. Harrington became the fourth player to win the British Open and PGA Championship in the same year and the first European to win consecutive majors. He closed out Sergio Garcia of Spain with a 15-foot par putt on the 72nd hole for a two-stroke victory.

2012 — The United States won the women’s 400-meter relay in a world-record time of 40.82 seconds at the London Summer Games, and it gave the Americans their first Olympic victory in the event since 1996. Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight and Carmelita Jeter combined for a perfect baton-passing trip that ended a string of disappointments for the U.S. in the marquee race.

2012 — Maurice “Mo” Purify caught a record seven touchdown passes and the Arizona Rattlers won the Arena Bowl with a 72-54 victory over the Philadelphia Soul at the New Orleans Arena. It was the Rattlers’ seventh appearance in AFL’s championship game and their third title. Quarterback Nick Davila, who was named the game’s most valuable player, completed 23 of 30 passes for 266 yards and nine touchdowns.

Sources: The Times, Associated Press