Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie Interviewed in London Summer 2009

DEBBIE FERGUSON-McKENZIE of the Bahamas, so far in her career has an Olympic 4x100 relay Gold medal from 2000, a bronze medal in the 100m in 2004 and three Commonwealth Gold medals from 2002 in Manchester.
On the 24th of July 2009 at Crystal Palace she won the 200 in 23.11 and the following Friday in Stockholm was second in 22.3 behind Allyson Felix who ran 21.88 but ahead of Kerron Stewart who ran 22.23.
Now 33 years old, people have inferred that she was too old to continue sprinting, after such a long career but she had some good answers to that when she spoke to Alastair Aitken .
   " I honestly feel from when I was a youngster I always had the talent. You find coaches you work with, more so than others, who can actually bring it out of you. I have been blessed through out my years to find such coaches. Now I honestly feel I have found the one LANCE BRAUMAN.'  
'I think for a while I had lost my love for the sport with some of the negative stuff I had experienced and I realised I can not be a victim of the past. I have got to enjoy the 'Now' and I am enjoying sport again. I think I am back to where I started.
It has been my love all these years and I am enjoying it again. Enjoy travelling again, even though I had been to places over and over. Travelling since 1999 I feel I am seeing it for the first time.'  
'When I first came on the circuit most of my competitors who were winning were between 30-38. Gwen Torrence, Gail Devers, Merlene Ottey. I think people go through a period and think 'Now all the Youngsters coming out. She is the Olympic Champion between 20-22!'
   ' I still feel there is something there and I believe in bringing that forward till the next Olympics in London'
Debbie Ferguson (Born 16th of January 1976 in Nassau, Bahamas) recalls:-
   'I basically started running as a youngster in elementary school when I was 10 at Oaksville Primary (She then went to St Andrews School in Nassau).
   Did she remember World 400 Champion Award Moncur of the Bahamas and did she have a heroine in the Bahamas?
   ' We grew up together and he was like a brother. As far as competition at the time my heroine was Pauline Davis. The sole competitor from the Bahamas regarding the Women's side and Merlene Ottey.
       Were any of Debbie's family talented:-
    "My mother Elka was but she was from a poor family and never got a chance to take it to the next level. She was the oldest of the siblings. You had to work then and nobody believed track and field could be a job, more a pass time.
In actual fact in order for me to run in high school my teacher had to come and convince her that I am going to keep my grades and, it was only the only way I was going to be able to run, as part of the club. Then when I got the scholarship my mother said  'Debbie it is all about the school, your grades but use it to get where you want to go in life'
   Fromm 12-18 as a junior things started to work out and in 1995 she achieved a rare double of winning the Junior CARIF Games over 100-200.Which was an important point to give her the confidence to see there was a lot more for in athletics in the future.
   ' For me I felt more like 'Some girls had piano lessons or ballet. I had track and in a way it was belonging to a group. A group that does positive things so, when I started doing track then I started travelling to competitions outside the Bahamas, this is nice I thought, Travelling to Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados and the Cayman Islands. That for me was a big deal. Thinking the Bahamas were big and realising it was not so big. Because of track I ended up getting a scholarship to the University of Georgia in the United States. From there it was of course always about academics but then after the finish, you get your degree, as an undergraduate and OK you get a chance to travel to Europe. Why not make this professional as your job and that was how it  all started!
   At the age of 20 she went to Atlanta for her first Olympic Games in 1996 and was in the heat of the 4x100 relay but did not run in the team in the final when Bahamas came second but of course in history she will be credited with being part of that silver medial team. She also managed two rounds of the 100m, coming 3rd in the second round but that was not quite good enough to qualify.
   In 1997 Debbie won the 100m in the CAC Champion ships in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 11.29.
She was part of the winning Bahamas relay team in the World Championships and in the Pan American Games in 1999. In the year between she won the 100 and 200 in the NCAA Championships, that made her feel she could be competitive on the circuit when required as the NCAA was an important event in the United States.
   It was the Olympics of 2000 in Sydney that stood out for her
    " I got eighth in the Final of the 100 (11.29) and Marion Jones (10.75) had beaten us by a mile yet in the 4x100 relay me, the youngest one of the team, I had to run against her. I remember thinking 'Oh My God. What are they trying to do to me. I remember before starting the race I had long finger nails and I chewed them all off. What am I going to do--This is the fastest woman in the World at the time and she had beaten me by a mile and a half in the 100 BUT I remember running against her. The stadium was packed. I was running scared. I heard nothing and we won! (Savatheda Fynes, Chandra Sturrup, Pauline Davis-Thompson, Debbie Ferguson- 1 Bahamas 41.95, 2 Jamaica 42.13 and 3 USA 42.20.).'
   '2002 was very special in the Commonwealth Games in Manchester. I watched people like Cathy Freeman and admired them. She had the Commonwealth Games record in 2000. I thought 'I wonder what it would be like to get a big meet record like that?'
   ' I ended up getting a Commonwealth record in the 100/200 of 10.91 and 22.20 for 200. 10.91 was my PB and my pb for 200 is 22.19."
   Another outstanding memory for her was the Olympic Games of 2004 in Athens ' I got the bronze in the 200 which was my first Olympic individual medal (1 Veronica Campbell  22.05, 2 Allyson Felix 22.18, 3 Debbie Ferguson 22.30)
   " It was kind of scary for me because I had lane 8. You think of all the strategies. How do you run from lane 8! I figured I am just going to run, just stop thinking and just compete. I remember getting out of the blocks. As a matter of fact every time I watch it I notice I was actually one of the three people who were one of the top three in the lead and running well. I remember crossing the line and did not know what place I got. Looked at the monitor and saw I got third and fell to the ground and honestly said a prayer. I am an Olympic medallist individually. All  the years of hard work, just working, travelling and competing and everything else. At that moment for me it was a bronze medal but it paid off'
   In 2008 in Beijing she made the Olympic final in both the 100 and 200 and came seventh in both with 11.9/22.61 respectively.
   ' I am still holding on and still dong well. I am having fun, just the same as when I started and that is the bottom line for me.'
Regarding her Mother Elka:-
' I think sometimes she is very proud of me and at the end of the day she says. Do it until you can't do it anymore Debbie. When you finish as long as you are happy its fine.'
   'Athletics is my life,. I think I will have a couple of years competing then start having kids and take it from there'  (She Married Bahamian businessman Adrian McKenzie in 2005)


Her opinion on Usain Bolt and his marvellous achievements " I think Usain Bolt brought back a lot of love for the sport in his character and the way he presents himself. Some people think it is negative. I say it is good for the sport. We are getting more interest in athletics again. At one point I feel, in a way, we lost that."

Alastair Aitken

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