Pauline Davis-Thomson, the spokeswoman for the "Golden Girls," presents sponsor Peter Nygård with a Bahamas Olympic team uniform Tuesday at his home in Lyford Cay.
ELEVATED on a high platform, four members of the "Golden Girls" assured Olympic team benefactor Peter Nygård they will do their best in Sydney, Australia in September.
Even Bahamas Amateur Athletic Association president Desmond Bannister made it known that the 4 x 100-metre relay team that their silver metal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia and the gold in Atlanta, Georgia and the gold in Seville, Spain at last year's World Championship were not flukes.
"I don't want to belittle anyone, but I have to be realistic," Bannister said in response to a question on American Marion Jones' quest for five gold metals at the Games.
"We have the work champions up here. The United States don't have any medals in that event, we are the world champions. We are the champions now.
"We are going in -- 4 x 100 metres -- as the favorites. It is up for us to win the race."
To ensure that the team and the rest of the Bahamian athletes, once ratified by the Bahamas Olympic Association, have every opportunity to succeed, Bannister revealed there will be two training camps leading up to the trip Down Under.
First, the team of Eldece Thompson, Debbie Ferguson, Sevatheda Fynes and Chandra Sturrup -- will head to France from Aug. 12-17 during the European tour and then they will conclude with the final camp in Sydney, starting from Aug. 28 leading up to the Games, which start Sept. 15.
"The training camp in France will be the first time we would have done the relay training camp and the emphasis is to get the athletes to get the baton around," Bannister said.
"If we can get four ladies -- any four of our ladies to get that baton around -- around, there's nobody in the world who can beat them. No team."
Davis-Thompson, the 20-year veteran on the national team, said the sponsorship by Peter Nygård had only given them the extra incentive to go out and win the gold.
Peter Nygård chats with members of the Golden Girls relay team Tuesday at Nygård Cay. From left are Eldece Clarke-Lewis, Debbie Ferguson, Chandra Sturrup and Pauline Davis-Thompson
"On behalf of the Golden Girls, on behalf of the Bahamas 2000 Olympic team, I want to say thank you, thank you so much," Davis-Thompson said.
"I know that you have become a naturalised Bahamian, but to me. You are a Bahamian and I want to say to you that when we go to Australia, we are going to do our very best.
"We are going to run our hearts out. We are going to make the United States run the race of the its life. We come from a small nation, but we come from a powerful nation."
Davis-Thompson said it has taken a naturalised Bahamian to come in and take pride in the team by making such a great gesture on behalf of the team.
She added she hopes his would be continued venture where more companies and persons would show their support to the younger athletes that are coming on stream.
Sturrup, the national 100 metres champion and record holder, assured Nygård the financial contribution he made to the BAAA would go a long way.
She also made a wish that Nygård's challenge to other corporate sponsors would be a success by the end of August.
She even predicted the team will go out and make the Bahamas proud in Sydney.
Ferguson, the national 200 champion and record holder, said she'd truly excited because of the performances of the "Golden Girls" at the nationals.
But while Nygård made a challenge through the end of August, Ferguson challenged the public over the rest of the week to match the $25,000 Nygård gave to the BAAA.
And Clarke-Lewis added that she truly believe that the Bahamian public will respond to the challenge he issued.
Sevatheda Fynes, the other member of the Golden Girls team, was not present. However, javelin thrower Laverne Eve, long jumper Jackie Edwards and sprinters Andrew Tynes and Joe Styles all attended.
"I feel they've done a remarkable job in the relay and they deserve the recognition," Eve said. "We have other athletes here, but it don't please me one bit and I don't think it phrases the other athletes.
"I know what I'm capable of doing and that's what I'm going out there to do. Hopefully, I would like to be in the position they're in, but until then, I'm fine. No problem."
Edwards said it's always good to see people stepping forth and supporting track and field the way they are going because the athletes struggled in the past.
Members of the "Golden Girls" relay team (from left Pauline Davis-Thompson, Chandra Sturrup, Eldece Clarke-Lewis and Debbie Ferguson pose with sponsor Peter Nygård in front of the Peter Nygård Challenge sign at Nygård Cay on Tuesday.
"They've earned this type of recognition, nothing has been given to them," she said. "So support them and I hope up to the Olympics, I can improve my performances so that I can be included into this type of celebrations."
Tynes took it a bit further, noting that he doesn't call the athletes Golden Girls, but rather he shows his respect by calling them the Golden Ladies.
"I respect them a lot and I respect what they've done," he said. "They work very hard for what they have achieved and I'm behind them 100 percent."
Tynes, who added he watches a replay of the relays just about every morning, said he's just waiting for his trip to the Olympics where he intends to go out and make the Bahamas just as proud as he is.
The Bahamian public will get the opportunity to show their support for the Bahamian team Wednesday at an autograph signing at the Texaco Harbour View, starting at 11a.m., according to Bannister.
On Thursday, the athletes will be at the Bank of Nova Scotia main branch and again on Friday at the same time, they will be at the Texaco on Faith Avenue.
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