August 11, 2008
In what could turn out to be her final Olympics, Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie was honored with one final tribute by her teammates and officials of Team Bahamas last night.
For the second consecutive Olympiad, she was chosen as the flag bearer for The Bahamas, and now she can only hope that these Beijing Olympics end the same way the 2004 Games did for her — with a glorious medal winning run.
Ferguson-McKenzie has already gone on record to say that she will hang up the cleats after the 2010 season. She has done it all in a lengthy career which stems all the way from her junior high days at C.C. Sweeting Jr. She has won at every level.
Ferguson-McKenzie is a former New Providence high school champion, a former NCAA double sprint champion, a former Commonwealth Games champion, a former World Champion courtesy of Marion Jones' drug admission, a former relay Olympic Champion and the reigning Olympic bronze medalist in the women's 200 meters (m). Ferguson-McKenzie also serves on the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Athletes Commission.
It was Ferguson-McKenzie who first came to the aid of veteran long jumper Jackie Edwards, when Edwards was not ratified as a member on this year's Olympic team, and now with Edwards, they will have opportunities to end their Olympic careers on positive notes.
Reinstated as a member of the team a few days ago, a proud and relieved Edwards was just a few steps behind Ferguson-McKenzie in the parade of nations at a spectacular cultural and inspiring opening ceremony of these 29th Olympic Games.
Originally, Chris 'The Fireman' Brown was chosen as the flag bearer for Team Bahamas, but Brown won't be in Beijing until Monday, and the honor to lead the Bahamian contingent into the stadium was given to Ferguson-McKenzie. She was one of 61 track and field athletes who carried the flags for their respective nations.
Notable flag bearers included Roger Federer of Switzerland, Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica, Bradley Ally from Barbados, and of course, Yao Ming from China. The 90,000-plus fans erupted in cheers when that nation's arguably most celebrated athlete, came out of the tunnel with the People's Republic of China's flag hoisted high.
As for the lighting of the torch, it proved to be totally unexpected. Kept a secret for many months leading up to the opening ceremony, former Chinese gymnast Li Ning was hoisted approximately 90 to 100 feet into the air to the top of the Beijing National Athletics Stadium. It was even rumored that a dragon would blow a huge fireball into the torch to light the flame, but on the contrary, Ning was transported around the top circumference of the Bird's Nest, eventually ending up at the torch where he lit another torch that triggered a flame right to the top of the Olympic Torch. It was a spectacular display as scenes from the Olympic Torch Relay, which was so widely protested this year, were displayed as Ning circled the top of the Bird's Nest. It was followed by fireworks which officially signaled the start of the Games.
By SHELDON LONGLEY
News date : 08/11/2008 Category : Sports