When Adair Ferguson won the single sculls title at the 1985 rowing World Championships in Belgium, she became Australia's first female world champion rower. Her performance was excellent enough for her to be named the 1985 Australian Athlete of the Year; in achieving the honour she beat fellow nominees Jeff Fenech and Alan Border. Ferguson proved it wasn't a fluke when she won a gold medal in the same event the following year in Edinburgh at the 1986 Commonwealth Games.
Ferguson represented Australia eight times at various international competitions but never at an Olympic Games. 1988 was considered to be her best chance of winning a medal but that year the Australian selectors decided not to send any female rowing competitors.
As well as representing Australia as a sportswoman, Ferguson tried her hand at politics. She stood as the Australian Democrats candidate in the blue ribbon liberal seat of Ryan in the 1990 federal election.