Davis-Thompson recognized widely as nation’s first queen of track and field
Pauline Davis-Thompson is deserving of the greatest respect for what she has accomplished personally, and the glory brought to her country, the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
A 15-year-old Pauline Davis, in April of 1982, captured silver medals in the 100 meters and 200 meters, in Kingston Jamaica, at the CARIFTA Games.
Later that year at the Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships in Bridgetown, Barbados, when she had just turned 16, the little Bain Town lass won four gold medals (100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters and long jump).
She was destined to become one of the greatest sprinters in world track history. Certainly, she evolved into our first queen of track, and subsequently, became the matriarch of a cadre of young Bahamian speedsters who collectively became known as the Original Golden Girls. I have emphasized previously the gallant role she played prior to the coming of age of her fellow Original Golden Girls.
There was Pauline Davis, often at meets when she was the only Bahamian competitive flavor, representing the country alone, without a coach or a national track and field executive to give support. She was the lone Bahamian female at that elite level.
She struggled through the hardships of a pre-ample funding era for professional track stars. She persevered and carried the baton by herself, until Eldeece (Clarke), Chandra (Sturrup), Savatheda (Fynes) and Debbie (Ferguson) made it into the elite circle.
Her achievements with the Original Golden Girls are of legendary proportions, an Olympic silver sprint relay medal (1996); a world championship (1999); and the Olympic sprint relay gold in 2000. Individual accolades of note, other than regional and Commonwealth medals, were the 1995 World Championship 400 meters silver medal; the 1999 World Indoor 200 meters silver medal; and the ultimate, the 2000 Olympic 200 meters gold medal.
This is a lady, without a doubt, to be revered for all time, and respected for the great body of positive-image performances the country and Bahamians have benefitted from. This original Golden Girl has always been feisty. She has never backed down from a discussion and to be truthful, is quite the opinionated one.
But, for the grace of God, go all of us.
Disagree with her, but respect Pauline.
Be disappointed with approaches she makes at times, but recognize her entitlement to express a viewpoint, just like everybody else.
In Doha, Qatar, at the recent International Association of Athletic Federations World Championships, Pauline, the grand lady of track, was given what many consider that organization’s highest honor. She was saluted with the title “Honorary Life Person Member of the IAAF”.
The underprivileged girl from Bain Town, indeed, has come a long way. Her colleagues from around the world respect and take great pride in being associated with Pauline Davis-Thompson.
Yet, this great lady was disrespected on the very same IAAF World Championships stage, about a week after IAAF President Lord Sebastian Coe paid tribute to her and two others, Roberto de Melo and Jose Odriozola. It was a great moment for the Bahamian sports brand. Yes, Pauline continues to contribute mightily.
She was due to present the medals for the men’s 400 meters. This meant she would have presented the gold medal to her countryman Steven Gardiner and been at the podium when the Bahamian national anthem was played.
The great Bahamian, however, was denied that privilege to the dismay of foreign track and field personnel, and also Bahamas Association of Athletics Association (BAAA) President Drumeco Archer, who called the scenario the most embarrassing and demoralizing he has encountered in all of his years of track and field involvement.
This matter, will, of course, be revisited.
For now, though, let’s continue the celebration mood all the way to national parade for our 400 meters specialist supreme, Steven Gardiner.
Afterwards, please, let the healing process begin, in earnest.
• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org or on WhatsApp at 727-6363.