DOHA, Qatar – An emotional Pauline Davis-Thompson said she is overwhelmed by the amount of support she got after receiving a lifetime award from the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) and she’s grateful to all who helped her get to where she is today.
The Bahamian ‘Golden Girl’ was named as an Honorary Life Person Member of the IAAF last Thursday and received a plaque of merit and veteran pin awards, granted as set out in the IAAF Council report.
She has enjoyed success both on and off the track, as a young up-and-coming athlete right into the senior ranks, in coaching and, finally, in the administrative aspect of the sport.
She said the moment on Thursday, during the closing of the 52nd IAAF Congress and on the eve of the 17th IAAF World Championships here in Doha, Qatar, is one that she will never forget.
“This is something that was completely unexpected and something that I truly cherish,” she said. “I’m humbled by this amazing award – 214 countries voted for me to get this award and this is so overwhelming. This just goes to show that if you love something and you keep working hard at it, your reward will be endless.”
Davis-Thompson was unanimously selected as an honoree by delegates of the 200-plus countries and was personally lauded for her accomplishments by IAAF President Lord Sebastian Coe. It was a humbling moment for her.
On hand to witness the historic occasion was Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ (BAAA) President Drumeco Archer and North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) President Mike Sands.
“A couple [of] things that I love dearly are my country and athletics,” she said. “I’ve been working so hard to keep the good name of The Bahamas held high. I just kept working because I felt that my duty was to ensure that The Bahamas’ name has no blemish and to make sure that I keep the door open for my fellow Bahamians to come through. I believe in us so much as a people, and that God has blessed us with such incredible gifts.”
Davis-Thompson was just the second Bahamian to sit on the IAAF Council, following in the footsteps of former BAAA President Alpheus ‘Hawk’ Finlayson. Succeeding her on the council, among Bahamians, is NACAC President Mike Sands. With the presidency of NACAC, one of six area associations of the IAAF, comes an automatic seat on the council. With Sands ascending to that office this year, Davis-Thompson could no longer run for a seat on the council as just one member of each jurisdiction is allowed to serve at any one time.
Be that as it may, her athletics career has now come full circle. She was an Olympic and World Champion as an athlete, and has now received one of the highest honors that one could receive from the global governing body of the sport.
“I would have never imagined receiving this award, and I just feel so incredibly blessed,” she said. “I want this to be a motivation to others to understand that it’s not really how you start in this life that matters, but how you finish. My heart is filled with gratitude and I accept this on behalf of every single Bahamian. I’m eternally grateful.
“I’d just like to thank all [of] my coaches, from Neville Wisdom in high school straight on up, my teachers, those who gave me rides to practices, my colleagues, my family and friends, and the Bahamian people who supported me so much. I owe this honor to so many people and I just want to say thank you and I love all of you.”
Davis-Thompson served as an IAAF Council Member for the past 12 years and prior to that, was on the IAAF’s Women’s Committee for four years. She brought a colorful and decorated athletics career to a close in 2000, finishing second on the track in the Olympic final of the women’s 200 meters (m) in Sydney, Australia, but later being upgraded to gold due to a ban for doping to American Marion Jones. That year, she also claimed Olympic gold as a member of The Bahamas’ women’s 4x100m relay team, aptly dubbed the “Golden Girls”.
Davis-Thompson has won a medal at just about every athletics competition she entered, both as a junior and a senior.