RALEIGH — Zola Budd Pieterse competed in her first Southeastern Masters Track & Field meet Saturday afternoon.
Pieterse, who is most known for her incident with Mary Decker in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, won two races in the 41st annual event at St. Augustine's College.
In the 1984 Olympics, Pieterse, a teenager from South Africa, got tangled up with Decker, the top American medal hope in the late stages of the 3,000 meters. Decker fell to the infield and was unable to finish the race when she injured her hip. Pieterse, who was leading at the time, eventually faded to seventh.
On Saturday in Raleigh, with competitors ranging from age 24 to 91, Pieterse, 45, ran the 1,500 meters in 5:05.42. She also ran the 5000 in 18:34.40.
"I think people still expect me to run well, but my approach to every race to just see how it goes early on," Pieterse said. "What I enjoy about this is the camaraderie between the athletes. It's a healthy, completive environment."
Among the 192 athletes, Pieterse was the most accomplished. As a barefoot runner from South Africa, she broke the world record in the 5,000 twice in less than three years in the 1980s. She is also a two-time winner at the World Cross Country Championships.
Now with three children and since becoming a volunteer coach at Coastal Carolina University, Pieterse has made rare appearances to run competitively for the past three years after moving to Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Before and after her races, Pieterse signed autographs and took photos with other competitors.
Don Lein, president of the Southeastern Masters, invited Pieterse to Raleigh after meeting her earlier this year.
"I couldn't be happier to have her here," Lein said. "I talked to her, and she said she looks forward to coming up next year."
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