Wednesday, Jul 24, 2019
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Ferguson-McKenzie maintains supremacy

The Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) received a rather nice bounce with its recent nationals in Freeport, Grand Bahama. Athletes turned in superb performances and the electricity in Freeport was a clear indication that perhaps more consideration should be made about future events taking place there.

I was particularly impressed though with the venerable Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie. She is such a stately individual, in all regards. While she maintained her supremacy as the country’s sprint queen, she was gracious to her younger compatriots.

It’s clear though that there is a distinct division in ability between Ferguson-McKenzie and the group that includes Sheniqua Ferguson, Cache Armbrister, Anthonique Strachan and Nivea Smith.

Ferguson-McKenzie doubled up in the short sprints, winning the 100 meters (m) in 11.34 seconds and her real specialty the 200m, in 23.09. In both cases, the times were sub-standard for Ferguson-McKenzie, but without a doubt, the others are not near her level, just yet.

At 35, Ferguson-McKenzie should not be expected to blitz to 10.91 and 22.19 (her personal bests) finishes, but she is an incredibly resilient athlete, one of history’s best in track and field and you can never count her out.

She has been winning world medals at the senior level for quite a long time. Fifteen years ago, a silver relay medal came at the Atlanta Olympics. Medals came in subsequent Olympic Games (relay gold), in 2000 and (200m bronze) in 2004. She made the finals in both events at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and in 2009 Ferguson-McKenzie won a 200m World Championships bronze medal and also a sprint relay silver medal.

Ferguson-McKenzie represents our best female medal chance, relay and open sprints. Chandra Sturrup is the national record hold in the 100m at 10.84 seconds but she has not been competing and it is not clear if she is just taking2011 off and focusing on closing out her career at the London Olympics of 2012.

Thus, Ferguson-McKenzie is the key to success in the sprint relay with the young guns at the World Championships August 27 – September 4 in Daegu, South Korea. Don’t go to sleep on her either. An individual medal in the 200m is possible if she gets to the final.

Along with the exquisite competitive touch she applies when representing her country, Ferguson-McKenzie is a straight-out quality person, with a golden demeanor. Ferguson-McKenzie is polite, complimentary, respectful and seems totally devoid of any negative attitudes.

She is that role model all athletes should emulate. She would speak strongly on an issue (as she does against doping in sports) but Ferguson-McKenzie avoids controversies.

Congratulations Debbie on the double championship in Freeport at the Nationals and best wishes for the rounds in Daegu and well beyond.

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at frobertsturrup@gmail.com)

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