Zola is pictured during the 1984 Olympic 3,000m final in Los Angeles close on the heels of Mary
Decker and leading the eventual winner Maricia Puica with silver medalist Wendy Sly following.
Zola Budd, though born in South Africa, competed for Great Britain - the
birth place of her grandfather. In 1984 at the age of seventeen she
broke the women's 5,000 metres world record whilst living in South
Africa but the record was not accepted by the IAAF. She then applied for
British citizenship, which was granted, the objective being to compete
at the Olympic Games, from which her country was barred because of it's
undemocratic government's racism towards non white people.
competed at the Games in Los Angeles but not without controversy. During
the race she clipped the heel of Mary Decker who tumbled to the ground
and out of the race in which the American was expected to contest a
medal. As the result below shows Zola also failed to win a medal. Two
years later, in a much faster race, Zola also missed out on a medal at
the European Championships in Germany. Although she failed to some
degree on the track, over the Country she was far more successful,
winning two World Championship titles.
The first in 1986, when she beat
Ingrid Christiansen and her second the following year. In 1985 she did
set an official world record for the 5,000 metres (then not an event
contested at the major championships) running 14m 48.07 seconds in
London. It was Ingrid's record she beat but the following year the
Norwegian regained the record. Zola, after several years out of
athletics returned, to South Africa and ran for that Country at the 1992
Olympics in Barcelona in the 3,000 metres, but failed to reach the
In 1985 and 1986 she won the World cross county championships.
Women's 3000m. Olympic Games 1984, Los Angeles.
1. Maricica PUICA (ROM) 8:35.96
2. Wendy SLY (GBR) 8:39.47
3. Lynn WILLIAMS (CAN) 8:42.14
4. Cindy BREMSER (USA) 8:42.78
5. Cornelia BURKI (SWI) 8:45.20
6. Aurora CUNHA (POR) 8:46.37
7. Zola BUDD (GBR) 8:48.80
8. Joan HANSEN (USA) 8:51.
Personal best performances.
800 Metres 2:00.9 Kronstad 16 MAR 1984
1500 Metres 3:59.96 Bruxelles 30 AUG 1985
One Mile 4:17.57 Zürich ( 21 AUG 1985
2000 Metres 5:30.19 London 11 JUL 1986
3000 Metres 8:28.83 Roma 07 SEP 1985
5000 Metres 14:48.07 London 26 AUG 1985
10,000 Metres 37:31.50 Bloemfontein 14 MAR 2003