Directed by Shola Lynch, whose latest work, Free Angela & All Political Prisoners, recently played in theaters, and titled Runner, the Nine for IX film's focus is on long-distance runner Mary Decker, who collided with another runner, knocking her out of the race that was to be the biggest moment of her then life - her Olympic debut in 1984.
The expectations were sky high for American distance runner Mary Decker as she lined up to make her Olympic debut in the 3,000 meters at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Decker had displayed unwavering dominance in every distance (from 800 to 10,000 meters) heading into the event, and her wholesome image graced magazine covers and adorned walls all over the world. At age 25, it was her first Olympics; stress fractures in her leg kept her out of the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and the U.S. boycott prevented her from competing in the 1980 Moscow Games. The 3,000 in L.A. was to be her coronation, the gold medal that would validate her greatness. But there was another compelling figure in the race, a 19-year-old barefooted South African running for Great Britain, Zola Budd. Just past the midway point of the race, Budd crowded Decker on the inside lane and, in the panic and urgency of the moment, they collided. Decker fell to the track. Budd would regain her stride, but finish a distant seventh behind the winner, Romania's Maricica Puica. Decker initially blamed Budd, but in later years they reconciled and tried to get past the collision. Still, Decker's one moment of heartbreak came to define what should have been a glorious career.
The remaining films in the Nine for IX series on ESPN will air 8 p.m. ET as follows:
August 13: Runner
August 20: The ‘99ers
August 27: Branded
All Nine for IX films will be available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon the day following air. A collectible DVD gift set with all films will also be available on October 15, 2013.
Follow the Nine for IX series on twitter at @30for30 and @espnW. Fans can join the conversation with the hashtag #LetThemWearTowels