In 1984 worldwide media attention was drawn to Central Park when a young athlete made her British debut. That athlete was Zola Budd. A young girl, born in South Africa but who had become a British citizen. At this time South Africa was still banned from worldwide sport due to apartheid.
A crowd estimated at around 5,000 people turned up to watch Zola run her first race on British soil on the Dartford track which was still at that time made of cinder. The race was shown live on BBC One’s Grandstand programme, was the main news item on all the TV news programmes and front page news in all the newspapers. Zola Budd set a women’s track record of 9:02.6 for 3000m in that race, a time which is unlikely to be beaten for many years to come.