Olympic Diary: Budd rolls back the years but time can't heal Wade's wounds

It took the best part of 27 years, but the runner wearing number 2621 at Granite Regional Park in Sacramento on Wednesday, finally made it on to the podium at a global event in the state of California. Running in the 8km women's age 45 to 49 cross country race on the opening day of the World Masters Athletics Championships, Zola Pieterse finished second in 29min 19sec – 33 seconds behind Soledad Castro Solino of Spain.

"It was great," Pieterse told The Sacramento Bee. "I probably started out a little too fast, but it was good healthy competition and I really enjoyed it. Today we were having fun. There isn't the same pressure as with other international competitions."

Such as the 1984 Olympic Games at the Los Angeles Coliseum, some 385 miles up Highway 99 from Sacramento, Pieterse might have added. Back then, she was known to the world as Zola Budd.

She was already a global cause célèbre, having been spirited away from South Africa – which was in international sporting isolation at the time because of its apartheid regime – by the Daily Mail and granted a British passport (to which she was entitled because of a British grandfather) in record time. The women's 3,000m final, featuring the barefooted Budd and the American darling Mary Decker, was billed as the clash of those LA Games. A mid-race clash of legs between the pair left Decker, the reigning world champion, sprawled on the infield and Budd fading from first to seventh place amid a chorus of booing by the Coliseum crowd.

Running for England, Budd won the world cross country title in 1985 and 1986 but she returned to South Africa in 1988 and competed for her homeland in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, failing to get beyond the heats of the 3,000m. Now 45 and divorced, she lives under her married name with her three children in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. At the World Masters Championships she is competing for South Africa – and yet she is still recognised today as the holder of the British women's record for the mile.

The 4min 17.57sec she clocked in Zurich in August 1985 eclipsed the 4:19.41 that Kirsty Wade ran in Oslo the previous month. Twenty six years on, Wade, born in Scotland, raised in Wales, resident on Tyneside during most of her running career and a British Olympian in 1988 and 1992 – continues to be denied the British record by a South African.

"I don't think it's right that the record stands," Wade said yesterday, breaking off from morning cleaning duties at Suainaval, the bed and breakfast establishment she runs overlooking Uig Sands on the Isle of Lewis. "Had Zola settled here, I'd have felt differently, but she never did.

"Of the things that were bad about the time I was running, that is actually one of the things that bothers me least. Running against people who were subsequently found to have been using drugs was much worse.

"Yes, Zola ran for Britain out of convenience, but she was in a difficult position. She was a bit of a pawn. She was given an opportunity that wasn't available to her in her own country. It was a mechanism to see somebody in the international arena who was exceptional. It would have been sad if we hadn't seen her run at her best."

The very best of Budd in her time as a British athlete came at Crystal Palace in August 1985 when she smashed Ingrid Kristiansen's world 5,000m record. In July 2011, as a South African athlete at the World Masters Championships, she still has the 5,000m to contest.

It will be her first global final on the track since the LA Olympics in 1984. This time the British mile record holder will be wearing spikes on her feet, and there will be no Mary Decker in sight.

Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas
footballChelsea vs West Ham live kicks off coverage of all 10 of Boxing Day matches
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all