Golden Girl: ‘I’m praying for everyone at home’


Senior Sports Reporter

Having gone through her ordeal of dealing with the passing of Tropical Storm Harvey, Golden Girl Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie is keeping her fingers crossed that the Bahamas won’t experience the same kind of devastation as Hurricane Irma threatens this weekend.

“For me at this point, obviously, I’m praying for everyone at home, not just in the Bahamas, but in the Caribbean and also in Florida,” said Ferguson-McKenzie in a passionate interview with The Tribune yesterday. “I just want to advise everybody to just make sure that you are prepared and listen to whatever advisory is given about food, gas and battering up your windows and everything else.

“We are a group of islands and although I heard that they evacuated a lot of people from the southern islands, I know we can’t evacuate everybody out of the country. I know it sounds really weird, but prayer changes things and some things we just have to keep the faith and keep praying.”

From her vantage point, Ferguson-McKenzie admits that it doesn’t look good for the Bahamas, but having come out of Hurricane Harvey unscathed, she’s confident that the island chain will be able to weather the storm and pick up the pieces after the passing of Category 5 Irma.

In Harvey’s aftermath, talking about their experience in Houston, Texas, Ferguson-McKenzie said it was a nightmare looking at the debris and items floating in the water from inside of homes, but she said they are now going through the recovery phase.

“At the end of the day, what can you do? You have to figure out what the solution is to the problem and start figuring out the solution,” she said. “Now that we are working on it, I think people are a little less stressed and I have a feeling that people are a lot more happy, the sun is out and people are on their way to recovery, so the atmosphere is a little more positive and we’re moving more upward.”

Residing in Missouri City while she serves as an assistant coach at the University of Houston, Ferguson-McKenzie said she wasn’t adversely affected at all during the passing of the storm.

“I know it sounds very weird, but at one point, I stayed on my knees (praying),” she said. “At one point, a tornado touched down about 30 seconds from where I lived, so it was very frightening, very scary, but no lives were lost. For me, I’m good, but there are several people who can’t say the same. I just count my blessings.”

Ferguson-McKenzie, who is still contemplating retirement after a glaring 20-plus year track career as one of the premier female sprinters in the country, she is looking forward to the 2018 season where she will be coaching the Grand Bahamian twin sister combo of Brianne and Brenna Bethel. They will be joined by Christina Knowles from Eleuthera, who is a walk-on.

During Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ National Championships in Grand Bahama in June, Ferguson-McKenzie said she was leaning on making the 16th IAAF World Championships as her last international meet. However, a glitch in the system originally didn’t place her in the final of the women’s 100m and she didn’t get to compete to at least earn a spot on the relay team.

After being denied the trip to London, England in August where the team of Devynne Charlton, Carmiesha Cox, Janae Ambrose and Ty’Nia Gaither didn’t finish and subsequently advance out of the semifinal after Cox and Ambrose didn’t connect the baton on their exchange, Ferguson-McKenzie declined to comment on what transpired.

But when asked if she’s officially done, Ferguson-McKenzie quipped: “We’ll see.

“Right now, I’m on the verge of deciding whether I will do something or not,” she stressed. “That was one particular goal that I had in my mind, but it’s no stress to me, honestly. I will focus on just being a coach and getting the kids academically and athletically sound. and go from there.”

Ferguson-McKenzie, 41, was a 2004 Olympic Games’ 200m bronze medalist in Athens, Greece; an IAAF World Championships 200m gold medalist in Edmonton, Canada and a 2009 bronze medalist in Berlin, Germany. She was also a member of the women’s 4 x 100m relay team that won the gold medal at the World Championships in Seville, Spain in 1999 and the Olympic Games in Sidney, Australia in 2000, joining the quartet of Eldece Clarke, Savetheda Fynes, Chandra Sturrup and Pauline Davis-Thompson, whose performances earned them the nickname ‘Golden Girls.’

While she contemplate her future as an athlete turned coach, Ferguson-McKenzie said she just want to wish the Bahamas every success in the passing of Hurricane Irma.

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