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South African track star Zola Budd forfeits international athletics

Track star Zola Budd, who collided with America's Mary Decker during the 3, 000 meters final at last summer's Olympic Games, has apparently ended her international running career by deciding to stay in her native South Africa.

Miss Budd took British citizenship earlier this year so she could compete in the Olympics, from which South Africa is banned.

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But the teen-age runner, considered by many as a potentially great athlete, recently returned to South Africa and has announced she will remain.

The decision appears to have been taken for personal reasons and against the advice of family members and her coach.

There is speculation Budd is staying in South Africa because her mother is ill.

Whatever her reasons, Budd will undoubtedly stir some resentment in Britain. The granting of citizenship to Budd was crticized in the first place by Britain's anti-South African lobby, some of whom saw the episode as a blatant effort by South Africa to circumvent its being banned from the Olympics. Budd was granted citizenship because her grandfather was an Englishman.

Over time though, it appeared that Budd began to win friends in Britain. She ran regularly in Britain in the months prior to the Olympics and was eventually selected to the national team for the summer games. Budd qualified for the 3,000 meters final, pitting her against veteran American runner Mary Decker, who was favored to win.

But during the race Budd and Decker collided, sending the American runner sprawling onto the ground and out of the race. Budd finished the race well back and visibly upset by the loud boos from the crowd. Later Budd was excused from any blame for the collision.

Budd's decision to stay in South Africa is surprising because it means she will not be able to compete in future Olympic Games. She is only 18 years old and already challenging the world's top women runners. Sports commentators had little doubt that Budd could have become one of the world's best in time.

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