Zola Budd

Zola Budd

Zola Pieterse, still better known by her maiden name of Zola Budd (born 26 May 1966 in Bloemfontein, Orange Free State in South Africa), is a former Olympic track and field competitor who, within a period of less than three years, twice broke the world record in the women's 5000 meters, and twice was the women's winner at the World Cross Country Championships. Budd's career as a pioneer in women's distance running was as unusual as it was meteoric, in that she always trained and raced barefoot. However, her achievements on the track were often overshadowed by the political controversy she aroused during her short stay in the United Kingdom.

Women's 5000 metre world record

Budd shot to international fame in 1984, at the age of 17, when she broke the women's 5000 metre world record, posting a sensational time of 15:01.83, [http://web.archive.org/web/20050320072940/http://www.evaa.nu/DOCUMENT/dunton/2004/trainin24.html] . Since her performance took place in apartheid South Africa, the world track and field establishment refused to recognize the record.

Budd was later to claim the world record officially, while representing Great Britain in 1985, clocking 14:48.07

Arrival in Britain

The "Daily Mail", a British newspaper, persuaded Budd's father to encourage her to apply for British citizenship, on the grounds that her grandfather was British, so that she could compete in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. With a strong push from the "Daily Mail", British citizenship was granted in short order, despite the no small amount of controversy the matter generated, and so she moved to Guildford. Her actual arrival from South Africa sparked an even greater political storm, reflected in part by the strong opposition of anti-apartheid demonstrations that materialized when she competed in Britain.

Shortly after her arrival in Britain, Budd was forced to pull out from a 1,500 metre race in Crawley, Sussex after the town council withdrew their invitation at short notice. The race was part of the inaugural event for the town's new Bewbush Leisure Centre and Mayor Alf Pegler said members of the Council had expressed misgivings that the local significance of the event would be overshadowed by "political connotations and anti-apartheid demonstrators". [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A05E0DC1538F93AA25757C0A962948260]

She ran her first competitive race on the cinder track at Central Park in Dartford, Kent. She ran the 3,000 metre course in a time of 9 mins, 2.6 seconds in a race which was shown live on the BBC's Grandstand programme. Following this race, she ran in a number of races on British soil, including the UK Championships 1,500m (won in a time of 4.04) and the 3,000m in the UK Olympic trials, which she won in a time of 8.40, earning her selection for the British Olympic team. Her most significant pre-Olympics victory was over 2,000m at Crystal Palace in July 1984, when she set a new world record of 5:33.15. Commentating during the race for the BBC, David Coleman exclaimed, "The message will now be flashed around the world - Zola Budd is no myth."

1984 Olympic 3000 metres

The pre-race hype for the final billed the race as a duel between Budd and American women's world champion Mary Decker. Few reports paid attention to the fact that Romanian Maricica Puica had set the fastest time in the world that year.

On the day of the final, Decker set a fast pace from the gun, with Budd in close pursuit, followed by Puica and Britain's Wendy Sly. When the pace slowed just past the midway point, Budd took the lead on the straight, and ran wide of the pack through the turn. Her injection of pace took herself, Decker, Sly and Puica clear of the pack. By all appearances, she had assumed control of the race coming out of the turn on the track at 1700 meters. Running half a stride behind Budd on the inside, Mary Decker bumped Budd's left foot with her right thigh as Budd glided into the next straightaway. After knocking Budd slightly off balance, Decker continued to maintain her position very close up and clipped Budd, striking the leader's calf with her right shoe, several strides later when Budd inched further over towards the inside. Following a further accidental collision, Decker then stumbled and crashed dramatically onto the infield. Her left hip injured, she was unable to resume the race.

Budd was booed by the crowd, although an IAAF jury found that she was not responsible for the collision. Although Budd continued to lead for a while, she faded, finishing 7th amid the resounding chorus of boos, in what immediately became one of the most controversial events in Olympic history. Her finishing time of 8.48 was well outside her best of 8.37, highlighting the impact the clash and the crowd's reaction had on her race. Budd tried to apologize to Decker in the tunnel after the race, but Decker did not respond in the same spirit, and replied, “Don’t bother!” (Zola Budd with Hugh Eley/1989/Zola/Partridge Press/ISBN 1-85225-089-5). Puica took gold, with Sly in second, and Canada's Lynn Williams the bronze. Decker said many years after the event “The reason I fell, some people think she tripped me deliberately. I happen to know that wasn’t the case at all. The reason I fell is because I am and was very inexperienced in running in a pack." [http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/08/01/an-olympic-blast-from-the-past/]

In general, it is the trailing athlete's responsibility to avoid contact with the runner ahead; whether or not Budd had sufficient control of the race to have pulled into the curve as she naturally did was hotly disputed. "This doesn't mean," track journalist Kenny Moore wrote in the aftermath, "that a leader can swerve in with impunity, but that in the give and take of pack running, athletes learn to make allowances" [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/features/cover/2002/then_now/flashbacks/budd_082084/] . At first the US media sided with Decker, while the British press supported Budd.

In 2002, the moment was ranked 93rd in Channel 4's 100 Greatest Sporting Moments.

International competition

Budd competed internationally for the UK in 1985 and 1986. In February 1985, she was crowned World Cross Country Championships champion (beating Ingrid Kristiansen) but then went on to have a poor start to her track season when she suffered several defeats. The most high profile of these was her keenly awaited rematch with Mary Decker-Slaney at Crystal Palace in July 1985, where she finished fourth in the race, some 13 seconds behind Decker-Slaney.

Budd's form seemed to remarkably transform after this race, however, as she then went onto break the UK and Commonwealth records for the 1500m (in a time of 3:59.96), mile (4:17.57), 3000m (8:28.83) and 5000m (14:48.07). This latter time was also a world record - Budd knocked 10 seconds off the previous record. Her most notable track victory was the European Cup 3000m. Her best times in the 1500m, mile and 3000m were set in a trio of races with Decker-Slaney and Maricica Puică. Although Budd finished third in all of them (Decker-Slaney was always the winner, with Puică the runner-up), they showed that the then 19 year old was a true world class athlete with real potential to be a future champion.

1986 got off to a sparkling start for Budd with the defense of her World Cross Country title and a world indoor 3000m record of 8:39.79. However, after a couple of initial victories in good times over 1500m and 3000m, her outdoor track season was a disappointment, with several defeats by athletes her personal best times indicated she should have beaten easily. She competed in both the 1500m and 3000m at the European Championships, but did not win a medal in either event, finishing 9th and 4th respectively. It was later revealed that Budd was suffering a painful leg injury for much of the season. She did not compete in 1987, as she sought treatment for her injury. In 1988, she began to compete again with a handful of cross country runs. However, several African nations claimed that she competed in an event in South Africa (Budd claimed she only attended the event and did not run) and insisted she be suspended from competition. The International Amateur Athletics Federation upheld this charge and suspended her. This proved to be one setback too many for Budd and she returned to South Africa. She retired from international competition for several years.

Marriage and beyond

In 1989, Budd married Mike Pieterse and became Zola Pieterse. She began racing again in South Africa and had an excellent season in 1991, and was the second fastest woman in the world over 3,000m. Following South Africa's reintroduction to the world's sporting scene, she competed for her homeland in the 3000 metres at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, but did not qualify for the final. In 1993, she finished fourth at the World Cross Country championships, but would never translate this form onto the track.

Budd remains the holder of numerous British and South African records, both at junior and senior levels. Budd still holds two junior world records, in the mile and 3000 metres.

Budd currently lives on her parents' farm in Bloemfontein, with her mother and three children (Mikey, Azelle and Lisa). She continues to run barefoot primarily for pleasure now, running 10-15 miles (16–24 km) a day, but has run competitively on occasion in recent years.

In April 2006, Budd filed for divorce after her husband allegedly moved in with a semi-finalist in the Mrs. United Nations South Africa beauty pageant.cite news | url=http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=139&art_id=vn20060415084747499C946587 | title=Zola left in tears yet again | author=Michelle Cahill | publisher=The Star (South Africa) | date=2006-04-15 | accessdate=2007-08-26] cite news | url=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2131635,00.html | title=Budd's husband 'runs off with rival' | author=Mike Behrin | publisher=The Times | date=2006-04-13 | accessdate=2007-08-26] The couple later reconciled. [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=A1YourView&xml=/sport/2006/11/14/soathl14.xml Budd in emotional return to spotlight - Telegraph ] ]


Zol, a common South African term for cannabis was derived from Zola Budd's first name due to her maiden name sounding thesame as "bud", another term for the substance.

This is only partly true. Zol has been a common term for marijuana in South Africa long before Zola Budd was born.


External links

* [http://www.safrica.info/ess_info/sa_glance/sports/zola.htm SAfrica.info] - Sporting Greats, Athletics: Zola Budd
* [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/features/galleries/2002/then_and_now/budd/850729.html SportsIllustrated.com] - SI cover: Back on Track - Mary Decker-Slaney beats Zola Budd in London
* [http://www.dartfordharriersac.co.uk/clubhistory.html dartfordharriersac.co.uk] - Dartford Harriers website with reference to Zola's race in 1984

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  • Zola Budd — Zola Pieterse, más conocida por su nombre de soltera Zola Budd,(n. el 26 de mayo de 1966 en Bloemfontein, Estado Libre de Orange, Sudáfrica) es una atleta sudafricana especialista en pruebas de media distancia, ya retirada. Contenido 1 Biografía… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Zola Budd — Informations Discipline(s) Courses de fond …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Zola Budd — (nach Heirat Zola Pieterse; * 26. Mai 1966 in Bloemfontein) ist eine ehemalige südafrikanische Langstreckenläuferin, die auch für das Vereinigte Königreich startete. Zola Budd wurde 1984 im Alter von siebzehn Jahren weltberühmt, als sie den… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Zola Pieterse — Zola Budd Zola Budd Discipline(s) Courses de fond Période d activité …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Zola Pieterse — Zola Budd (nach Heirat Zola Pieterse; * 26. Mai 1966 in Bloemfontein) ist eine ehemalige südafrikanische Langstreckenläuferin, die auch für das Vereinigte Königreich startete. Zola Budd wurde 1984 im Alter von siebzehn Jahren weltberühmt, als sie …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Zola — puede hacer referencia a: Émile Zola (1840 1902), escritor francés. Gianfranco Zola (1966 ), futbolista italiano. Zola Budd (1966 ), atleta sudafricana. Esta página de desambiguación cataloga artículos relacionados con el mismo título. Si… …   Wikipedia Español

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