Budd competing without shoes, 1984
26 May 1966|
Bloemfontein, South Africa
|Height||164 cm (5 ft 5 in)|
|Weight||48 kg (106 lb)|
|Club||Aldershot, Farnham & District AC|
|Achievements and titles|
800 m - 2:00.9 (1984)|
1500 m - 3:59.96 (1985)
Mile - 4:17.57 (1985)
3000 m - 8:28.83 (1985)
5000 m - 14:48.07 (1985)
10,000 m - 34:57.1A (1994)
Zola Pieterse (née Budd; born 26 May 1966) is a middle-distance and long-distance runner. She competed at the 1984 Olympic Games for Great Britain and the 1992 Olympic Games for South Africa, both times in the 3000 metres. In 1984 (unratified) and 1985, she broke the world record in the women's 5000 metres. She was also a two-time winner at the World Cross Country Championships (1985-1986). Budd's career was unusual in that she mainly trained and raced barefoot. She moved with her family to South Carolina in 2008, and competes at marathons and ultramarathons. She volunteers as assistant coach at Coastal Carolina University in Conway. Her mile best of 4:17.57 in 1985, still stands as the British record.
Budd, who was born in Bloemfontein, Orange Free State, South Africa, achieved fame in 1984, at the age of 17, when she broke the women's 5000 m world record with a time of 15:01.83. Since her performance took place in South Africa, then excluded from international athletics competition because of its apartheid policy, the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) refused to ratify Budd's time as an official world record.
In 1985 she claimed the world record officially, while representing Great Britain, clocking 14:48.07.
The Daily Mail, a British tabloid newspaper, persuaded Budd's father to encourage her to apply for British citizenship, on the grounds that her grandfather was British, to circumvent the international sporting boycott of South Africa, 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 and she moved to Guildford. Her application and arrival was controversial due to her acquiring a passport under preferential circumstances. Groups supporting the abolition of apartheid campaigned vociferously and effectively to highlight the special treatment she received; other applicants had to wait sometimes years to be granted citizenship, if at all.
Shortly afterwards, Budd was forced to pull out of a 1500 metres race in Crawley, Sussex, when 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".
She ran her first competitive race on the cinder track at Central Park in Dartford, Kent, covering 3000m in 9 mins. 2.6 seconds in a race shown live on the BBC's Grandstand programme. She ran in further races in Britain, including the UK Championships 1500m (won in 4 mins. 4 secs.) and the 3000m in the UK Olympic trials, which she won in 8 mins. 40 secs., earning a place on the British Olympic team. In the 2000m at Crystal Palace in July 1984 she set a new world record of 5 mins. 33.15 secs. Commenting during the race for the BBC, David Coleman exclaimed, "The message will now be flashed around the world - Zola Budd is no myth."
In Britain, Budd trained at Freddie's Aldershot, Farnham and District Athletics Club.
In the 1984 Olympics, held in Los Angeles, California, the media billed the 3000 m race as a duel between Budd and American world champion Mary Decker, and few reported that a third contestant, Romanian Maricica Puic?, had set the fastest time that year.
Decker set a fast pace from the gun with Budd in close pursuit, followed by Puic? and Britain's Wendy Smith-Sly. When the pace slowed just past the midway point, Budd took the lead on the straight and ran wide of the pack around the turn. Setting the pace, she took herself, Decker, Smith-Sly and Puic? clear of the pack. Running as a group was an unusual situation for Budd and Decker, both of whom were used to running in front and well ahead of other competitors.
At 1700 metres, the first collision occurred. Decker came into contact with one of Budd's legs, knocking Budd slightly off balance. However, both women maintained their close position. Five strides on, at race time of 4:58, Budd and Decker again made contact, with Budd's left foot brushing Decker's thigh, causing Budd to lose her balance and sending her into Decker's path. Decker's spiked running shoe came down hard into Budd's ankle, just above the heel, which drew blood. Videotapes later examined by Olympic officials showed Budd visibly in pain. However, Budd maintained equilibrium and kept stride.
Decker, now very much off balance, fell forward and crashed onto the infield, catching hold of the number on Budd's back, which tore free. Decker was unable to resume the race due to an injury to her hip.
Budd, deeply affected by the occurrence, continued to lead for a while, but faded, finishing seventh amid a resounding chorus of boos. Her finishing time of 8:48 was well outside her best of 8:37. Writing in her autobiography years later, Budd stated that she deliberately slowed down to take herself out of contention, because she couldn't face collecting a medal in front of the hostile partisan crowd. Budd tried to apologise to Decker in the tunnel after the race, but Decker was upset, and replied, "Don't bother!". Puic? won with Sly second and Canada's Lynn Williams third.
Although Budd was jeered by the crowd, an IAAF jury found that she was not responsible for the collision. 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."
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." 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. On an episode of Celebrity Come Dine with Me, Budd stated that to this day that she has never seen footage of the collision.
Budd competed internationally for the UK in 1985 and 1986. In February 1985, she was World Cross Country Champion (beating Ingrid Kristiansen), but then went on to several track defeats. The most significant of these was her rematch with Mary Decker-Slaney at Crystal Palace in July 1985, in which she finished fourth, some 13 seconds behind Decker-Slaney.
Budd's form improved significantly after this race, however, as she then went on to break the UK and Commonwealth records for the 1500 m (in 3:59.96), the mile (4:17.57), the 3000m (8:28.83) and the 5000m (14:48.07). This last reduced the world record by ten seconds. She was also victor in the European Cup 3000m. Her best times in the 1500m, mile run and 3000m were set in races with Decker-Slaney and Maricica Puic?. Budd finished third in all three races, with Decker-Slaney and Puic? consistently coming first and second respectively.
1986 began with a defence of her World Cross Country title and a world indoor 3000m record of 8:39.79. However, after a couple of victories in fast early season times over 1500m (4:01.93) and 3000m (8:34.72), her outdoor track season brought several defeats by athletes 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, finishing 9th and 4th respectively. It later emerged that Budd was suffering a painful leg injury for much of the season: she did not compete in 1987 as she sought treatment for this.
In 1988 she began to compete again with a handful of cross-country runs. However, several African nations claimed that she had 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, at which point Budd returned to South Africa. She retired from international competition for several years, but returned in time to represent South Africa in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, competing in the 3000m.
In 1989 Budd married Mike Pieterse. The couple have three children, daughter Lisa and twins, Azelle and Mike. On her return home, Budd began racing again in South Africa. She had an excellent season in 1991 and was the second-fastest woman in the world over 3000m. Following South Africa's re-admission to international sport, she competed in the 3000m 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 on to the track. Budd published her autobiography, Zola (co-written with Hugh Eley), in 1989. Budd remains the holder of numerous British and South African records at junior and senior levels, and still holds two junior world records: the mile and 3000m.
Following allegations of her husband having an affair with former Miss South Africa Agatha "Pinkie" Pelser, Budd took out a restraining order against Pelser after a police-supervised seven-hour gun siege when she threatened Budd and her children. Under her married name, Pieterse and her three children relocated to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, US, in August 2008, later joined by her husband Mike. She initially had a two-year visa that allowed her to compete on the US masters' circuit. She is a volunteer coach at Coastal Carolina University Chanticleers track team and has raced in the South Carolina division of USA Track and Field, winning the women's division of the Dasani Half-Marathon during Bi-Lo Myrtle Beach Marathon on 14 February 2009 with a time of 1:20:41.
Budd's children also compete: at 2 May 2009 Orangeburg, South Carolina Festival of Roses road race, after winning the women's 12k event, she watched her daughter Lisa (17) win the girls' 5k. 12-19 age group at 30:17, followed by her niece Claudia (21) at 31:36.
On 12 January 2012, she announced her participation in the 2012 edition of the nearly 90-kilometre (56 mi) Comrades (ultra)Marathon which was held on 3 June 2012. She would also participate in the Two Oceans Marathon during the Easter weekend of 2012 as she trained towards the Comrades Marathon which she ended up finishing in 8:06:09 (she was the 37th female finisher). Although she planned to also run the Comrades in 2013 she withdrew due to illness.
In June 2014 Budd entered the Comrades again, hoping for an overall silver medal and for a time under 7 hours 30 minutes (7:30:00). Budd beat her time target, finishing with a time of 6:55:55 and earning a gold medal for a top 10 finish as well as a gold medal as the 1st 'veteran' (senior) finisher while coming in as the 7th female finisher overall (the first six being at least 10 years her junior). Budd dedicated her 2014 Comrades run to South African teacher Pierre Korkie, held captive in Yemen by Al-Qaeda for one year. She was stripped of her 'veteran' gold medal (but not of her cash prize for finishing 7th overall) following accusations that she did not display a small age category tag on her running vest, in addition to the veteran designation already displayed on her running bib. Budd and her coach pointed out that the veteran gold medal and silver medal were then given to two runners who also did not have the small age category tag on their running vests, and announced in September 2014 that they had started court proceedings against the Comrades Marathon Association to have her veteran win reinstated..
She also previously run the 2012 Comrades Marathon, finishing 37th female and 10th female veteran in a time of 8h6mins, earning a Bill Rowan Medal .
In March 2015, Budd won the Run Hard Columbia (SC) Marathon, with a time of 3:05:27.
In South Africa today, township taxis are nicknamed "Zola Budd" for their speed. The singer Brenda Fassie (whom Time magazine called "the Madonna of the townships" in 2001) had a hit single in the 1980s with her track "Zola Budd". On 20 July 2012 BBC Radio 4 broadcast a play by Richard Monks about the political and media actions taken to bring Zola Budd to Britain with her father at the age of 17, the script implying she was unwilling and homesick.
|Representing Great Britain / England|
|1984||Olympic Games||Los Angeles, United States||7th||3000m||8:48.80|
|1985||World Cross Country Championships||Lisbon, Portugal||1st||5 km||15:01|
|1985||European Cup||Moscow, Soviet Union||1st||3000m||8:35.32|
|1986||World Cross Country Championships||Neuchatel, Switzerland||1st||4.7 km||14:49|
|1986||European Championships||Stuttgart, Germany||9th||1500m||4:05.32|
|Representing South Africa|
|1992||Olympic Games||Barcelona, Spain||25th (heats)||3000m||9:07.10|
|1993||World Cross Country Championships||Amorebieta, Spain||4th||6.4 km||20.10|
|1994||World Cross Country Championships||Budapest, Hungary||7th||6.2 km||21:01|
|2003||London Marathon||London, United Kingdom||DNF||--||--|
|2007||Kloppers Marathon||Bloemfontein, South Africa||1st||--||3:10:30|
|2008||New York City Marathon||New York, United States||69th||--||2:59.53|
|2011||Kiawah Island Marathon||Kiawah Island, United States||5th||--||3:01:51|
|2012||Myrtle Beach Marathon||Myrtle Beach, United States||3rd||--||3:00:14|
|2012||Jacksonville Marathon||Jacksonville, United States||4th||--||2:55:39|
|2014||Charleston Marathon||Charleston, SC, United States||1st||--||2:59:42|
|2015||Run Hard Columbia Marathon||Columbia SC, United States||1st||--||3:05:27|
|2017||Stirling Scottish Marathon||Stirling, United Kingdom||9th||--||3:12:24|
| Women's 5000 m Best Year Performance