Last month, Sandals Lifestyle explored the amazing achievements of Olympic Gold medalist and humanitarian, Arthur Wint, in honor of the forthcoming 2012 Olympic Games in London, England. This month, we’re showcasing the sportsmanship of a Bahamian ‘dream team’ that had their share of ups and downs but came out victors at both the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games against all odds.
The Bahamas, an archipelago featuring hundreds of breathtaking islands and cays, is home to various precious gems such as its pristine beaches, the world’s third largest barrier reef, see-through waters, and of course, the Bahamas’ own… Golden Girls.
The Golden Girls, a group of women comprised of five outstanding track and field athletes— Eldece Clarke, Savatheda Fynes, Chandra Sturrup, Debbie Ferguson, and Pauline Davis-Thompson—made their debut as a four-girl team (minus Chandra Sturrup) when they placed fourth at the 1995 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden. However, it was the entire dream team of all five team members that stunned the world with their unbelievable performance at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia in which they took home the silver medal in the 4×100 meter (m) relay.
In 1997, spectators expected the Golden Girls to perform at the highest levels during the IAAF World Championships in Athens, but a fumble during the baton pass between Eldece Clarke and Savatheda Fynes slowed the Golden Girls down so much so that they finished a disappointing sixth. Two years later, at the 1999 IAAF World Championships in Seville, Spain, Savatheda Fynes, Chandra Sturrup, Pauline Davis, and Debbie Ferguson captured the gold medal in the 4×100 m relay and set the Bahamas’ national record of 41.92 seconds. This is when they were officially christened, ‘The Golden Girls.’
Less than a year later, the Golden Girls were back at it again as they took their positions—Savatheda Fynes (lead-off), Chandra Sturrup (backstretch), Pauline Davis (curve), and Debbie Ferguson (anchor)—at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. That year, the girls brought home the Bahamas’ first-ever Olympic Games track and field gold medal. Gold was achieved in the 4×100 m relay, and Davis-Thompson also won a silver medal in the 200 m competition.
Four of the five Golden Girls now: (from l) Sevatheda Fynes; Chandra Sturrup; Pauline Davis-Thompson; Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie
Since the success of the IAAF World Championships and the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, the girls have been given the royal treatment, receiving the fanfare of festivities in their honor, receptions, parades, and monetary awards. A bank was commissioned to mint a commemorative gold coin to honor their Olympic victories and they were even presented with plots of land in the Bahamas: a 20,000 square foot piece of property overlooking the sea, and valued at $400,000 each. Today, the Golden Girls are revered as world-class athletes and ambassadors for the Bahamas.