Mary Decker


Mary Decker was booked to do a Kodak commercial for the 1984 Olympics to be held in Los Angeles.  At that time she was probably the world’s greatest longer distance runner and a version of America’s Sports Sweetheart.  She was tiny, even nondescript, and just a little bit cute.  The commercial called for her to run but the script she was given was an early version that had her signing autographs or something.  She told me that she had run earlier for a photo session and she couldn’t run any more since it would disrupt her training regimen. We had planned to have her run so the agency freaked a bit as I tried to form another plan on little (no) notice.  I said let’s just have the girls at start getting into position to run.  I was shooting everything in slow motion so there could be a moment there, depending on her expression or whatever.  We had a starter’s pistol there as well (I’m not sure whether they used that anyway) and I told him to fire it.  He did and she ran, from instinct. She became an angel.  She appeared to float over the ground while the other girls plodded and that was that.  Miracle?  Luck?  Later came the tragedy of her fall in the Olympics, sad end to a brilliant athlete.