By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
THEY just missed out on the opportunity to get into the A final for a shot at a medal. In the B final, the Bahamas also missed out on a chance to win the race.
V’Alonee Robinson, Tayla Carter, teenager Brianne Bethel and ‘Golden Girl’ Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie came within a hairline of pulling off the victory. But Ecuador’s Angela Tenorio surged from behind and edged out Ferguson-McKenzie at the line.
In the end, Ecuador was awarded the win in the photo finish as both teams were timed in 44.14. Venezuela followed in 44.17.
At the finish line, the Bahamas team was greeted by the Golden Girls - Sevatheda Fynes, Chandra Sturrup, Eldece Clarke and Pauline Davis-Thompson. For Ferguson-McKenzie, who ran with all of the retired women, it was a special moment in time.
“This is truly a dream come true. I’m happy to be running with these young ladies and I’m really proud of them,” she said. “After the race, I celebrated with my older ladies, but these ladies (team-mates) are the future of the sport in this nation.
“I’m honoured to run and remember (the late) Thomas A Robinson (her godfather and mentor, whom the stadium is named after. He is like an angel by my side. It has been two years since he passed and it’s truly an honour. This is for him.”
The only thing missing was the victory, but all three other teammates were all delighted to have performed the way they did.
While they failed to get into the A final, the Jamaican team of Simone Facey, Kerron Stewart, Schillonie Calvert and Veronica Campbell-Brown claimed the gold in a world-leading time of 42.14. The United States - Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, Kimberlyn Duncan and Carmelita Jeter - got the silver in 42.32. Great Britain, anchored by Margaret Adeoye, got the bronze in 42.84.
The same team of Robinson, Carter, Bethel and Ferguson-McKenzie finished fourth in their heat for ninth overall in a season’s best of 44.11 to earn the top spot in the B final.
For Ferguson-McKenzie, who anchored the squad of the rising young stars, it was a great feeling to finally get the opportunity to run in the stadium for the first time.
“It was amazing. Walking out, I felt like I was at the Olympic Games and the World Championships,” said Ferguson-McKenzie, who has done that walk so many times in her long and illustrious career.
“To be at home in front of the home crowd gave me so much pride. I felt very good about the experience.”
As for the team that she ran with, the new full-time assistant coach said the process has to start somewhere and now is a good time.
“I’m happy that I got a chance to run with them and they were eager to go out there and run,” she said. “We have to start from here and work our way back up to the top. They just have to start working hard from here and we’ll eventually get it.”
With the IAAF World Championships looming on the horizon, Ferguson-McKenzie said she’s going to go back to Houston and continue her training in an effort to come home for the BAAA Nationals in June.
“I want to run on the relay team again, so I know I have to run in the 100m,” she said. “So I’m going to get ready for that and hopefully I can continue to help these young girls to get to the level that I’ve been at.”
As for the other members of the team, Robinson said she just wanted to get the team off to a good start and let the others do the rest.
“Considering that this was the first time that we ran, I think we did very well,” said Robinson, who has ran on a couple of international relay teams in the past. “I’m just happy to have gotten this opportunity.”
Carter said the goal was to get into the final, but despite falling short, she was still pleased with their performance especially considering the fact that she got to do it with Ferguson-McKenzie.
“She’s just an awesome person and a great role model,” Carter said. “She has really done a lot for the sport and I’m just gad that I got a chance to run with her here at home. The crowd was just fantastic cheering for us.”
Bethel, no doubt, got a lot of those cheers as she made her return to the track after she left quite disappointed on Saturday when she ran out of the zone before she got the baton from Anthonique Strachan as the Bahamas got eliminated in the final of the women’s 4 x 200.
“I was just glad to get back out there and compete again,” Bethel said. “The girls told me to hold my head up because it could have happened to anyone and so I just went out there to compete hard. I was glad that I got the chance to compete with the team.”