For sheer hype, nothing else in track has matched the Zola Budd-Mary Decker Slaney showdown during this post-Olympics year. In terms of sheer athleticism, however, Steve Cram's record-shattering binge has been the highlight of an outdoor season in which 14 new world standards have been set. Cram, Britain's silver medalist in last year's Olympic 1500, established new marks in the 1,500 meters (3:29.67), the mile (3:46.31), and 2,000 meters (4:59.39) within a 20-day span. He then had an opportunity to better Sebastian Coe's 1979 feat of setting three consecutive world records, but fell just shy of Coe's 1,000-meter time.
Just the right circumstances and conditions, of course, must come together for a record to be broken. And this year, as so often in the past, that occurred in Oslo's Bislett Stadium
It has been the scene of 45 world records since 1924, including three on the same night in July. Norway's Ingrid Kristiansen bettered the record for the women's 10,000 meters, Morocco's Said Aouita followed suit in the men's 5,000, and Cram capped the evening with his dream mile.
In April, Kristiansen obliterated the women's world best in the marathon, taking 11/2 minutes off Joan Benoit's time. A day earlier Olympic champion Carlos Lopes of Portugal shaved 54 seconds off Steve Jones's previous men's best.
Though Slaney easily defeated Budd in their so-called rematch, Mary has not broken any world marks this year. In fact, the only Americans to do so were triple jumpers Willie Banks and Wendy Brown.
The most heralded achievement on the infield was a space launch by Soviet pole vaulter Sergei Bubka, who became the first man to clear 6 meters, or 19 ft. 81/4 in. Another Soviet, Rudolf Povarnitsin, raised the high jump standard to 7-101/2. The remaining records came in the men's 30K walk and women's javelin (twice).
This year has a way to go to keep pace with 1984, when 37 records were broken. The outdoor season is far from over, however, with the World University Games, a US-USSR-Japan meet, and the World Cup all still ahead.