The Ultimate 50
37. Mary Decker
Mary Slaney is content to be a wife and mother in Oregon these days. She's told newspaper reporters she can jog now, but can't really run. You might say her hair does the running for her -- stretching below the shoulders. This photo from a party for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials showed a breeze trying to shove her style forward. A strand or two stops above Slaney's right eye. With no bangs showing, the left side of the hair somehow finds a way to hold.
But in a 2009 Reuters profile on Slaney at home, a photographer captured a couple of photos along the lines of this look. We could argue this both ways, but the online evidence persuades us to conclude her style is in her left eye and defeated. If not, she's had a few extremely close escapes on windy days in Eugene.
The most recent picture of Mary we could find was from the early 2007 Millrose Games in New York. She straightened out her hair for this event -- and with bangs across the forehead, it still looks good. A strip of hair near the right eye looks long enough to fall if a wind kicked up. But as we mention below, all she'd have to do is run a bit to counteract that....
Mary only seems to appear in public these days at guest appearances and hall of fame induction ceremonies. She's in several halls for track, including the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame where we obtained this picture. We're not sure how current it is, though.
This 2004 photo of Decker Slaney at an Oregon beach actually won a national prize for photography -- showing she's photogenic even off the track. And that hair remains well-cut and undefeatable. In the modern history of athletics, few styles are better.
Our thanks to Oregon's Eugene Register-Guard for providing the only current photo of Decker Slaney (apparently her proper name) we can find online. It's a surprising picture, because the hair is straight - a big change from the 1980's. While bangs are obviously there for safety, we suspect she requires a ponytail for runs these days.
Decker Slaney was inducted into the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame in December 2003. Yet strangely, we could track down no photos of the ceremony - only photos of her classic running form of 20 years ago. It's the style Hair Fans remember best, of course, so perhaps that's only appropriate. We suggest doing a Google image search for examples of it.
Current pictures of Decker's hair proved hard to find for us. If you have any to share, please contact us. Galleries of Decker also seem scarce. So in their place, here are a couple more photos of a fast-moving style many Hair Fans may have dreamed of chasing.
This Sports Illustrated cover shows Decker breaking a world indoor record (we believe in the 1500 meters). While the average jogger with her curls would simply have bouncing hair, her locks fly back from her speed. But since the curls likely were natural, they were unlikely to loosen or droop.
This classic photo followed the legendary collision with Zola Budd at the Los Angeles Olympics. It happened in mid-race, yet the worst Decker's style could do was partially cover the forehead.
Well-trimmed natural curls such as hers may rank among the most tempting for Hair Fans. They appear long enough to collapse, yet absorb jolt after jolt with magnificent reliability. The only way we think Decker's curls could hit her eyes is if someone reached out and pulled them down. But you'd have to catch her first, then keep the curl down long enough for a photo -- and with her, both are quite unlikely.
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