Mary Decker-Slaney

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameMary Thereza•Decker-Slaney (-Tabb-)
Used nameMary•Decker-Slaney
Born4 August 1958 in Flemington, New Jersey (USA)
Measurements168 cm / 51 kg
AffiliationsAthletics West, Eugene (USA)
NOC United States


Mary Decker has been the greatest American female middle distance and distance runner. She was a prodigy, breaking American records indoors when she was only 15, and won AAU titles indoors and out in 1974. After her breakout years of 1973-74, she had problems for a few years with injuries, which would become a recurrent feature of her career. In 1979 she came back to win a gold medal at the Pan-American Games in the 1,500. Her greatest season was 1983, when she won gold medals in the 1,500 and 3,000 at the first World Athletics Championships, defeating favored Soviets in both races. She was voted Track & Field News Female Athlete of the Year for 1983 and Sports Illustrated’s Sportswoman of the Year.

In 1984, with the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Decker (now Decker-Slaney) was the hometown favorite in both the 1,500 and 3,000. But her form was not as good as 1983 and she placed only second in the US Olympic Trials in the 1,500, and elected to run only the 3K at the Olympics. In the final, on an early lap, she collided with South African Zola Budd who competed for Great Britain in this Olympics, and Decker-Slaney fell to the track with a hip injury, unable to continue. Over the next few years she sustained multiple injuries, underwent multiple surgeries, and never returned to her form of 1983, despite making the 1988 and 1996 Olympic Teams.

Personal Bests: 400 – 53.84 (1973); 800 – 1:56.90 (1985); 1000 – 2:34.65 (1988); 1500 – 3:57.12 (1983); Mile – 4:16.71 (1985); 3000 – 8:25.83 (1985); 2 miles – 9:31.7i (1983); 5000 – 15:06.53 (1985); 10000 – 31:35.3 (1982).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1984 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Mary Decker
3,000 metres, Women (Olympic) AC r2/2
1988 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Mary Decker-Slaney
1,500 metres, Women (Olympic) 8
3,000 metres, Women (Olympic) 10
1996 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Mary Decker-Slaney
5,000 metres, Women (Olympic) DQ

Olympic family relations

Special Notes