|Eldece, Pauline fostered historic sprint relay team|
Guardian Columnist/Sales Executive
Published: Jun 04, 2012
The Original Golden Girls will always own a special part of the hearts of Bahamians for their historic breakthrough as the best sprint relay team in the world, arguably, from 1999 to 2002.
Pauline Davis, Chandra Sturrup, Eldece Clarke, Savetheda Fynes and Debbie Ferguson will forever be hailed as one of the best sprint relay squads in the history of the world. During the special ceremony that culminated the 60th year anniversary celebrations of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA), Sturrup, Fynes and Ferguson were not there.
They were aptly represented, however, by Clarke and Davis. When I saw the two dignified ladies with the bearing of champions, my mind flashed back to the mental strength it took for the pair go to great lengths to mold into a cohesive unit five brilliant speedsters who would make an eternal statement for their beloved country.
Several years ago while chatting with Clarke, she very quietly spoke of the frustration felt when the team failed to do well at the 1997 World Championships, despite just coming off a silver medal effort at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Clarke was 32 at the time and Davis 31. Unquestionably they were the two leaders of the group because of their exposure and maturity.
“We were very disappointed. We had high expectations after winning the silver medal in Atlanta. We kind of fell apart at the 1997 World Championships and it was very demoralizing. We decided that we would pull it together,” said Clarke when she reminisced during our chat.
The others were younger but they were just as determined. Clarke and Davis provided the leadership and they all made great sacrifices, monetarily, physically and emotionally. They spent personal funds to connect to work out and bond as a team. They taxed their bodies severely and they endured the emotional stress of travel and being away from close members of their families. The set of
circumstances they suffered through in order to renew themselves as a prime world force and mount the monumental challenge of facing and defeating all who came against them, is often glossed over.
Mostly, when they are remembered, it’s more about their gold medal achievements (1999 World Championships and the 2000 Olympics) and seldom is thought given to all that it took to get them to such an incredible height.
However, when I looked at the two icons at the BAAA’s ceremony, I thought of the true greatness manifested, first by the intestinal fortitude and then by the ultimate success on the track. All the Original Golden Girls did well individually, some more so than others but what they did together would always be significant to the rich legacy of track and field in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
Clarke and Davis, although retired now for 12 years, still very much look the part of champions. Clarke is a few pounds heavier, but one look into her eyes and the determined fire that enabled her to run 10.96 in the 100 meters is still there. Davis does not look a pound-more than when she was running 10.97 and winning the Olympic 200 meters gold medal in 2000.
I salute the mentors of the Original Golden Girls and take pleasure in being able to present a side of them to readers that often is forgotten by some and not known at all by others.
•To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org.