C. Blogunov is in Sochi, Russian Federation, reporting for the People’s Cube, ensuring all sports receive equal coverage, and indulging in bad sports puns. Today we interview Betty-Mae Ferguson, daughter of Olympic legend Lamar Ferguson. In today’s extraordinary events, she made history by winning gold for the United States for the first time in the women’s biathlon 7.5 kilometer sprint, as well as breaking up what turned out to be an ill-timed terror attack when Chechen rebels opened fire on the venue.
Blogunov: Betty-Mae, let me congratulate on your gold medal and on stopping a terrorist attack by Chechen rebels when they opened fire on the competitors in your event.
Betty-Mae: Oh, yeah. Let me tell yew, I never been so mad in all my life as when I was gettin’ ready to hit five for five, and just then they started shootin’ all over the place. One of ’em had a RPK, just like Daddy uses fer dear huntin’, and he hit the stock on my rifle and messed up my fourth shot! I didn’t practice fer six years just to lose to somethin’ like that, and I had one round left in the magazine, and there was no question in my mind where it was goin’. Now he had the firepower, that’s fer sure, so I knew I had to make it count. Anyway, I took him out, and serve him right, too.
Blogunov: There’s another good shot in your family as I understand.
Betty-Mae: You mean my brother, Claude. Yeah, he’s an Army sniper. He even held the record for the longest kill in Afghanistan for a little while. We been shootin’ since we was kids.
Blogunov: But back to the story of today. What happened after you killed the man with the RPK?
Betty-Mae: Well, then I seen another man with a grenade launcher, like the one Daddy goes fishin’ with, so I changed magazines right quick and he went down next.
Blogunov: At that point, it seems from the video footage that everything changed and it really started going badly for the terrorists. Tell us about that.
Betty-Mae: I’ll never fergit it – long as I live. Them Chechens was all confused when all of a sudden up stands Olga Vilukhina wavin’ her rifle over her head, and shoutin’, “Rodina!” and something that sounded like, “Attack!” Then right next to me, Tora Berger’s up on her skis ‘n’ starts screamin’, “Til Valhall! Til Valhall!” Well, I tell yew what, I was pumped. I was up and shrieking a Rebel yell that ain’t been heard from a Ferguson since Chancellorsville. We was all on our skis ’cause we wasn’t lettin’ none of ’em git away.
Blogunov: And none survived. Now you and your father are known for coolness under pressure, but some observers say you appeared a little unhinged.
Betty-Mae: (blushing slightly) Well, we was all madder ‘n’ wet hens, let me tell yew. But, uh, I don’t like to mention nothin’ too intimate, but this time of the month is usually a bad time for me, anyway. I reckon that’ why I scalped two of ’em.
Blogunov: And then what happened after the attack had been defeated?
Betty-Mae: Hey, we was there to win, and all us been trainin’ forever for this event, so we went back to it. I reckon we all woulda had better times, but we was interrupted like you know.
Blogunov: Well, you finished the course and came in first getting gold for America for the first time in the Women’s Biathlon.
Betty-Mae: Well, God’s good and it was sech a blessin’ to win fer my country.
Blogunov: I understand two presidents called you.
Betty-Mae: Oh, yeah, our president called to congratulate me fer comin’ outta the closet with my domestic partner or some such thang. I told him he musta been thinkin’ ’bout someone else, and he hung up on me. But ol’ Mr. Putin, now that’s a diff’rent story. He invited me ‘n’ Daddy ‘n’ Mamma ‘n’ Claude on a tour of Russia, and git this, he’s gonna show us some o’ his bear wrasslin’ moves!
Blogunov: Well, you’ve certainly earned the gratitude of both nations. Your country, and I’m sure your family, are all very proud of you.
Betty-Mae Ferguson: Daddy sent me a text. Said he was holdin’ back tears o’ pride. It was real sweet o’ him.
Blogunov: Olympic blood seems to run in your family. What was it like growing up with your father who is himself an Olympic champion, who took gold twice in the Men’s quarter acre lawn mowing event in Beijing, and then again in London before retiring?
Betty-Mae: Daddy was always real modest about it, but he sure did work hard. He was doin’ yard work four hours a day, ‘cept Sundays. He was always up early workin’ out and gettin’ in shape and all. We did miss him when he was away in Athens, or Beijing, or London, but we and the rest o’ the trailer park was always so proud to see him up thar on that medal platform.
Blogunov: There was another influence. I understand his rival on the field and personal friend, Mr. Rodriguez, was often a guest in the Ferguson home.
Betty-Mae: Oh, you mean Uncle Pedro! We just love him. Him and Daddy was always talkin’ ’bout the games, and Uncle Pedro done real good when he coached the Mexican Men’s Synchronized Landscaping team to victory in London. That’s where Daddy got his last gold medal ‘fore retirin’. Anyway, I was just thrilled hearin’ ’em goin’ on about the games, and I started dreamin’ that maybe I could do somethin’ like that, too. Daddy and Momma was always encouragin’ me, and I trained real hard. We all was so happy when I qualified fer the Olympic team.
Blogunov: He also generated some controversy in London when he came out and announced that he and your mother were straight.
Betty-Mae: I remember that. Daddy didn’t mean to make nothin’ about that; it’s just who he is and what he believes.
Blogunov: We wish you well in your future, and we’ve all had “Sochi” good time watching you.
Betty-Mae: Aw, that’s a good ‘un! Thank yew, so much.