Mary Decker

                      Early Life

   Mary was born on August 4, 1958, in Bunnvale, New Jersey, although her family moved to Southern California 10 years later. It was in California when Decker first got interested in running. After soaking up a year of running, when she was eleven she won her first local racing competition. She immersed herself in running, competing in many other local and regional events. She joined a running club and ran for her school teams. Decker showed amazing determination and pushed her self to the limits of her endurance.

  By the time she was in her early teens, Decker had won enough competitions and posted low-enough times that she was recolonized as a world-class runner. Despite the fact that she was called little Mary (cause only weighed eighty pounds and was under five feet tall) was unable to attend the 1972 Olympic trials, since she was to young.  This did not stop Decker from competing with Olympians, however. Decker won the 800-meter event in her first international competition later that year. Decker beat the silver medal winner from the 1972 Olympics in the process.


Mary Decker, was the first woman to win the prestigious Jesse Owens track-and-field award. She was one of the best mid-distance runners in the U.S. She won both the 1,500 and 3,000 meters at the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki, setting thirty-six American and seventeen world records in competitions between 1983 and 1985. Decker's career basically began at age 11. She ran her first marathon when she was 12 and set her first world record at age 14! Although she managed to remain competitive into her late thirties, Mary's career with blighted by injuries, most famously at 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, when she collided with Zola Budd and injured her hip. Though she qualified for four more Olympics and competed in three (the U.S. team didn't attend the 1980 games in Moscow), Decker never manged to win an Olympic medal.

  After a successful come back in 1996 at age thirty-eight, Mary tested positive for high levels of testosterone 1997. Her name was cleared the following year, when the test was shown to be inaccurate when applied to older women. In, 1999, wishing to return to full fitness, she had a series of surgeries to repair stress fractures. Even though her legs and feet were operated on more than thirty times. Unfortunately she was unable to return to competitive running. :(

                    Later Life

After surgery Mary and her husband moved to a  55-acre ranch in Eugene, Oregon, where she can jog every other day. Her other hobbies are sewing, gardening, and walking her three dogs. She has a daughter and will hopefully have a wonderful life.


    "I can jog, but I can't run. That's hard for me. I like the fact that I can jog for fitness, but to me there's a huge difference between jogging and running."

    "I've never felt less of an athlete or not accomplished athletically because I didn’t win an Olympic medal. It’s definitely something I would have liked to have added to my resume, but at the same time I think I can look back at my athlete career and feel like I was one of the best."

    "I've always had a high expiation for my self. I’m aware of them, but I can’t relax them."