The Doyenne of Bahamian Sprinters
Pauline Davis began practising sport at school. Although she already liked running, she also practised as many sports as possible, including softball, field hockey and basketball. At 13, she was spotted by a coach thanks to a video tape. It was then she took her first real steps into athletics.
At her first Olympic Games in 1984 in Los Angeles, Pauline was the flag-bearer for her country at the Opening Ceremony. In the 100m, she was eliminated in the semi-final, and she finished in sixth place in the 4x100m relay.
Her second and third Olympic Games, in 1988 in Seoul and in 1992 in Barcelona, resulted in semi-final places in the 100m and 200m. It was in Barcelona that Frank Rutherford, with whom Pauline was at school and who was behind her meeting her coach, won the first Olympic medal for the Bahamas in the triple jump.
At the 1996 Games in Atlanta, Pauline Davis lined up for the 400m. In the semi-final and final, she twice beat the national record. In a very fast race in which Olympic, African and Oceanic records were beaten, she finished fourth by only 18 hundredths of a second. With her compatriots Sevatheda Fynes, Chandra Sturrup and Eldece Clarke, she won the silver medal in the 4x100m relay behind the US team.
Aged 34 in 2000, Pauline Davis competed in her last Olympic Games in Sydney. However, the sprinter had never run so fast. In the 200m final, she achieved the best time of her career beating Susanthika Jayasinghe of Sri Lanka by one hundredth of a second and collecting the silver medal: the first Bahaman woman to win an Olympic medal in an individual event. World champions since 1999, it was in the 4x100m relay that the Bahamians were eagerly awaited. After Sevatheda Fynes and Chandra Sturrup, Pauline passed on the baton to Debbie Ferguson, who held off Merlene Ottey-Page and Marion Jones to win the race and give the Bahamas their first gold medal of the Olympic Games.
With three Olympic medals, Pauline Davis retired at her peak. The woman who was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2004 today gives back to athletics what the sport gave to her by training talented young Bahamian sprinters.