Debbie ready to do damage
DAEGU, South Korea – The storied career of Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie has yet another chapter. Back for an eighth International Association of Athletic Federations’ (IAAF) World Outdoor Championships, one of the most accomplished women in Bahamian track and field history said that the passion and will to compete is as strong as it ever was.
After choosing not to run the shorter sprint this year, Ferguson-McKenzie will compete in just the 200 meters (m) and 4x100m relay here in Daegu, South Korea. The elder stateswoman on this year’s 18-member squad said that she is thankful to be back on another squad, and embraces any opportunity to represent her beloved country at the highest level of athletics.
“First of all, I have to say that I’m blessed to be here – in good health and in a good spirits. Once I have that, then everything else will fall into place,” she said. “Normally by now, I would have been started but I decided not to run the 100 and just focus on the 200 and the 4x100m relay.
“The 100 has been my better race for the year but my love is the 200m.
For once, I just want to focus on the 200, plus I need the extra days to rest… the journey to Korea was no picnic or a walk on the beach,” she added.
To say that Ferguson-McKenzie has had a busy summer would be an understatement. She has already competed in seven Diamond League Meets this season in addition to other Grand Prix appearances to go along with her training schedule as well.
She has always been one to compete in both the 100 and 200 whenever she has the opportunity to do so. As a matter of fact, the national record holder in that event is the only athlete, male or female, to make the final in both the 100m and 200m at three successive Olympiads – 2000, 2004 and 2008.
“Sometimes there’s more to life than just making finals,” she said. “I’ve been doing that for quite a while now, but sometimes when I look back (at) it, I would think to myself that if I didn’t run the 100m, the 200 would have been better.
“I think I needed the rest as well. I really didn’t get a chance to rest this summer with the traveling and training and everything else. Skipping the 100 gave me a chance to rest so I decided to go with that.”
As for the 200m, Ferguson-McKenzie will be joined by two young rising stars in that event, Nivea Smith and Anthonique Strachan – the gold and silver medalist from this year’s Sr. Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Championships, respectively. It’s the first time in the history of the biennial world championships that three women will represent The Bahamas in the 200m.
“That should be a lot of fun. It’s amazing and it’s something good. I’m definitely excited about that,” said Ferguson-McKenzie.
That trio will be joined by Sheniqua Ferguson, the fourth Bahamian female to run under the ‘A’ qualifying standard for this year’s Daegu World Championships in the 200m, and Cache Armbrister and Bianca Stuart for the 4x100m relay. Two years ago, the team of Ferguson-McKenzie, Ferguson, Chandra Sturrup and Christine Amertil, won the silver medal at the Berlin World Championships.
“When it all boils down to it, it’s going to come down to the stick,” said Ferguson-McKenzie. “We just want to be there and do the best that we can. We have a good team and once we get the stick around, I think we’ll be fine. We have the leg speed so we just need to get that stick around and just move it through the zone.”
The heats and semis of the Women’s 200m will be held Thursday here in Daegu, and the final will be contested on Friday. The heats and final of Women’s 4x100m relay will be held on Sunday.
With eight appearances at the World Championships for The Bahamas, Ferguson-McKenzie trails just Laverne Eve and Jackie Edwards, who have both been to nine. She said that she fully intends to be back for a ninth World Championships two years from now, in Moscow, Russia.