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Female sprint relay focus is important

Sports Scope
  • Eldece Clarke-Lewis

  • Pauline Davis-Thompson

Guardian Columnist/Sales Executive

Published: Apr 17, 2012

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The excellent body of work done by the ‘Original Golden Girls’ (Pauline Davis-Thompson, Eldece Clarke-Lewis, Chandra Sturrup, Savetheda Fynes and Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie) amounted to a standard for the ages, for all time.

When addressing the achievements of those wonderful daughters of The Bahamas, the general tendency of others is to concentrate on what they did when on the world stage. There is another element to them that is often ignored. I’ve always contended that only when Davis and Clarke became the driving force and the combined mature leadership for team work on passing and other technical aspects of the relay, was the foundation properly put in place. The ‘Original Golden Girls’ spent their personal funds over and over to meet and practice to maximize their potential.

They well understand the need for them to come together in camp in order to be best equipped to deal with the rest of the world. After having to settle for silver behind the United States at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, they went on a mission that was to make them World Champions (1999) and Olympic Champions (2000), reigning as the best in the world (with the same group) perhaps longer than any other unit.

It was an incredible collective undertaking. The leaders of this country have never adequately compensated the ‘Original Golden Girls’ and it is unlikely that situation will ever be balanced. They established the template however for the future.

There have been some success since Davis-Thompson and Clarke-Lewis retired following the 2000 Sydney Olympics. With Timicka Clarke, Sturrup, Ferguson-McKenzie and Fynes, The Bahamas won gold at the 2002 Manchester, England Commonwealth Games. Then, in 2009 at the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) World Championships, Sturrup and Ferguson-McKenzie teamed up with the young Sheniqua Ferguson and Christine Amertil to win the silver medal. The parts have not always been in place for continuity of success.

Now though, with the 40-year-old Sturrup rounding out into fine form following a year off, Ferguson-McKenzie remaining a vibrant world force and Sheniqua Ferguson running faster and faster, there is an available nucleus that presents a feel-good situation. There are the young guns Anthonique Strachan, Shaunae Miller and Tynia Gaither.

There are the ladies in waiting, Nivea Smith, Cache Armbrister and Krystal Bodie. Amertil, the 400 meters specialist (like Miller), is coming back after taking a year off. An excellent coach (Bahamian Henry Rolle) has been assigned by the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA), the task of getting our relay teams ready for London 2012 later this year. There are just two pieces missing from the puzzle.

I now put them forward for the BAAA and the Ministry of Sports. Firstly, the BAAA should have a few meaningful sessions with the ‘Original Golden Girls’ to find out just how they did it. They are available. Take advantage of the opportunity. Secondly, a way must be found, and funds supplied to establish a camp for our relay athletes, all of them. The BAAA and the sports ministry are so challenged.

Please, let’s not miss this grand opportunity. I firmly believe that if everything gets put in order for our relay athletes, The Bahamas could win the women’s sprint relay gold and also the men’s 1,600 meters gold in London at the 2012 Olympic Games.

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com)

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