Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie is 37 and no doubt in the concluding phase of a tremendous sports ambassador career.
It has been as productive as any. I see the personable Debbie as the most decorated Bahamian athlete and a real decent character.
Her achievements on tracks around the world have brought joy to many Bahamians and other supporters.
They know the ultra athlete. However, her even-handed approach to issues, her friendliness, her passion for helping people, and the respect she automatically gives to others are features a smaller percentage of observers have been able to become familiar with.
This incredibly warm and gifted human being is in the final chapter of her competitive career.
In Moscow for the 14th International Association of Athletic Federations Outdoor World Championships, Ferguson-McKenzie is scheduled to carry the Bahamian banner in competition once again today, when she lines up for her qualifying heat of the 100 meters.
I would like to see her go out in a blaze of glory.
That’s only remotely possible now based on her diminishing efforts in the last few years.
Ferguson-McKenzie, healthy for most of a long career, has fallen prone to injuries and her times have declined. In the 100 meters she has a best of 10.91 seconds.
However, her fastest legal time this year going into Moscow is 11.32. Last year, her best was 11.26.
Those times might get her out of the first round, but not much further.
Anything much less would see her exit the field quite early.
She’s not entered in the 200 meters. Ferguson-McKenzie’s national record stands at 22.19 and she is a former world champion, Olympic bronze medalist and Worlds Outdoor bronze medalist in the event.
Her best this year has been 23.34 and for 2012 it was 23.35.
Clearly, in part because of injuries, she has not gotten back to elite form. At this age juncture, can she be respectable, competitively, again?
That’s what most of those who have observed this gallant lady through the years prefer.
What does she have left in those legs? Her heart can never be questioned.
For her though, at this point, it is largely about her physical capacity.
This is a realistic perspective.
So, I’ve been eager for today. I want to see how she does in her opening heat of the 100 meters.
Frankly, I would love for Ferguson-McKenzie to hit a personal best for the year in Moscow.
If she can pull out a few low 11 seconds efforts and somehow qualify for the final that would be gravy.
Then, there is the 4x100 sprint relay. With the right combination employed, The Bahamas could make the final of that event.
It would be nice to see Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie in a final again, any final. She is deserving of closing out her career in respectable fashion.
Best wishes Debbie!
• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com.