After The Fall
She was a gangly, pig-tailed, 89-pound, 14-year-old when she began her international athletic career. But could she ever run. She would go on to set six world records in track events ranging from the mile to the 10,000 meters. She was named the top amateur athlete in the U.S. and Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year, among many other honors. But for Mary Decker, it all came crashing down.
It was the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and Decker was heavily favored to gold medal in her signature event, the 3,000 meters. On the starting line with her was her nemesis, South African Zola Budd, running barefoot.
As the race began, the pack settled into a quick but relaxed pace. Decker was ahead, running smoothly in her light, long stride. Budd was further back but pressing the pace. Tactically, Budd was an aggressive runner who liked a fast pace but she wasn’t a strong finisher, so she had to position herself early in the race. Decker on the other hand liked to stay relaxed and finish with a strong kick. Both runners were playing out their race strategies until mid-way, about 1,600 meters, when disaster struck.
Decker was running on the inside near the rail as Budd surged from behind, running off Decker’s right shoulder. As they rounded the final turn, Budd cut in more sharply, slightly ahead of Decker. Then Budd’s left foot grazed Decker’s right thigh. Budd wobbled to the left, and Decker’s foot struck Budd’s calf. Decker lost her balance, stumbled, and crashed down on the track infield. In a flash her race was over.
A slip, trip or fall at work can happen just as fast and with disastrous consequences. That’s why you have to prevent them. For starters, try these tips every day:
*Clean up spills immediately.
*Use ladders correctly and carefully.
*Wear skid-resistant shoes.
*Keep eyes on path.
*Exercise extra caution around loading docks, manholes, and other ledges.
A slip, trip or fall can result in a minor injury or a debilitating one. You never know. That’s why it pays to be careful. Mary Decker’s fall ended her hopes for Olympic gold in the 3,000 meters in 1984. But you can reach the gold standard for safety every day just by preventing slips, trips and falls. Remember-put your best for forward every day for safety.
It’s Your Call…
Stay alert to prevent a
SLIP, TRIP or FALL
*Copyright 2005 Harkins Safety B211