Bright-looking future for female sprinting
The original Golden Girls of The Bahamas started something really good.
Pauline Davis, Chandra Sturrup, Eldece Clarke, Savetheda Fynes and Debbie Ferguson put together an international run in the sprint relay from 1996 to 2002 that will live on throughout time.
Olympic gold and silver medals, a world championship and a Commonwealth gold highlighted a period of dominance for the Bahamian speed ladies few other nations can compare with.(Timicka Clarke joined Sturrup, Ferguson and Fynes for the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games triumph following the retirement of Davis and Eldece Clarke).
Sturrup and Ferguson are still in the mix but supporters in this country and around the world know that in a few years, perhaps after London 2012 Olympics, both will have closed out their careers.
Thus it is nice to know that even when those two pillars of Bahamian sprinting leave the competitive scene, the future will still be very bright for the legacy of our Golden Girls.
Indeed, much like the Inimitable Golden Girls of television(Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty, Rue McClanahan and Betty White who will continue to grace the screen in re-runs for years and years), our athletic version appears likely to be a presence far into the future.
Female sprinting in The Bahamas has become a tradition.
Timicka Clarke appears to have retired. In 2009 at the World Championships, Christine Amertil dropped down from her 400 meters(m)specialty and the 200m to join Sturrup, Ferguson and newcomer Sheniqua Ferguson and win a silver medal.
Sheniqua Ferguson, Nivea Smith and Cache Armbrister are in the second level group of sprinters under Sturrup and Debbie Ferguson. Behind them, showing tremendous promise, are Tynia Gaither, Anthonique Strachan and Shaunae Miller.
Both Gaither and Strachan have official 23.17 times over 200m to their credit. Strachan joined Gaither at that world-leading mark for juniors this past weekend when she bested Miller for first place in the 200m final at the Scotiabank/Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations(BAAA)National High School Track and Field Championships.
Miller is the reigning world junior 400m champion. Gaither is the World Youth Olympics silver medal winner over 200m. Strachan, at 16, has the same kind of potential as her older compatriots. So, outside of Sturrup, Debbie Ferguson and Amertil, the nation has six young ladies with speed to burn.
Now, if somehow they can emulate the Originals with dedication, determination, maturity and running savvy, huge statements will be made later this year during the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea(August 27-September 4), the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico(October 14-30)and beyond.
It’s a dream situation for the BAAA.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at [email protected])