Standing tall: Paul Francis shares his story of courage

first_imgDania Bogle, Senior Gleaner Writer FANS OF athletics may have heard the name Paul Francis as the master strategist behind Jamaica’s gold medal in the women’s 4x400m at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Beijing, last August. Others know him as the younger brother of MVP Track and Field Club head coach, Stephen Francis and one of the club’s founders. Athletes at the University of Technology (UTech) know Francis as head coach of the women’s track team and for four years between 2010 and 2014 their classmate. Francis was 44 years old when he decided to go back to university. He had started in the 1980s at the University of the West Indies and dropped out after a year. He was accepted to do a degree in Business Administration at UTech in 2005 and opted out; but on February 2, 2010, what started out as a minor car accident, would change Francis’ life forever. While travelling on Highway 2000, he had a minor accident and when he left the vehicle to inspect the damage, was hit by a passing car which crushed his right leg. That exacerbated an injury Francis had suffered in 2008. “One day after training, I was fooling around on the track with a football and twisted my ankle and it just …broke. So I was walking around with a noticeable limp from two years before,” Francis told The Gleaner. After three weeks in hospital he was told his leg had developed an infection, and would have to be amputated. Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association president, Dr Warren Blake, one of the island’s most noted orthopaedic surgeons, conducted the operation. “Of course, I would have felt a deep remorse on hearing that I would have had to lose half of one of my legs and like any normal human being, I buss a bawl,” he shared. NO LOOKING BACK “After that bawl, never again have I looked back and regretted or thought that I am disadvantaged because I have a disability.” Francis, an IAAF Level IV certified sprint and hurdles coach, and Area Technical Official, was fitted with a prosthetic leg that August. The amputation made him reevaluate his position. “I did not see myself being able to demonstrate a high knee drill or a start to any athlete, and I thought that would somehow reduce my premium as a coach, and I thought it would be an excellent idea to ensure I try to expand my knowledge in terms of the administration of the sport because sport is my passion. I didn’t want to be somebody who had to sit down and rely on people,” he said. In 2010, a long-time dream of local track and field icon Dennis Johnson, who was for many years head of sports at UTech, the Bachelor of Science in Sport Science would come to fruition. “So as soon as I heard it was on, I jumped at it,” Francis, who turns 50 in April, said. There were days when Francis, who graduated with a degree in Sports Management, would go to classes on crutches as his prosthetic limb caused soreness. “Each day, I got a little stronger in terms of how to manage my own body. I had years of coaching experience and every sporting event doesn’t need only players, but it also needs strategists who are going to guide or coach the team. So oftentimes I played that role but at no point did I refuse myself from any practical activity because of my disability. I took part in every one of them,” he said. Being a full-time coach and student can be difficult, but Francis said difficulty is relative. “I thought I was blessed. It was simply a thing of managing your time. I have always considered myself a realist. In most situations I prefer to see a bottle as half full rather than half empty, and one of my most dominant philosophies is that no matter how bad a situation you think you are in there are many who are worse and they have survived it, therefore you can too.” Francis works very closely with his brother, and while he is the more celebrated, has nothing but great love and respect for the job his brother is doing. FIRST ATHLETE He was Stephen’s first athlete as he coached him in the discus while he was at Wolmer’s. “I have zero reservation about the kudos and recognition Stephen gets. I am his biggest admirer. He is bright. He is working at his passion and he uses all his available resources to ensure that he keeps improving at what he does. I feel a bit ashamed sometimes when people big me up because I think that he deserves most or all of the praise,” he said. Since graduating, Francis has started his own events planning business and is enthusiastic about his future. “You can either choose to lie down and die or you can choose to get up and live. I chose to live,” he said.last_img read more


Sky’s the limit for McLeod – Graham

first_img PROBLEMS McLeod has recently run 9.99 seconds for the 100 metres, but Graham doesn’t believe the accelerated velocity will create problems. “All he has to do is fix his leg sometimes by not hitting the hurdle,” he suggested. “Once he’s clean, we’re going to see something fantastic soon, before even Rio”, Graham said, using hurdling terminology to describe a race when the athlete isn’t slowed down by contact with any of the 10 obstacles. More broadly, the experienced coach thinks that McLeod and Parchment could both win medals in the 110-metre hurdles at the Olympics. “Once Parchment gets his start, we could see Jamaica creating history – a quinela,” he predicted. “With Omar’s early speed, once Parchment gets his start, Jamaica is in for some good times in the hurdles,” he concluded. The early-season form of Omar McLeod has one of his former high-school coaches thinking about the world record. Raymond Graham, who coached McLeod in 2013 at Kingston College (KC), says McLeod’s early speed will help chase Aries Merritt’s four-year-old 110-metre hurdles record of 12.80 seconds. Graham also believes that McLeod and Hansle Parchment could make hurdling history for Jamaica at this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Graham isn’t surprised by his former student’s early-season run of 13.08 seconds at the Drake Relays last weekend. “He is the first hurdler I’ve seen with so much speed, and when you have speed,” he explained, “you’re going to run fast”. The long-time coach believes McLeod was unlucky to hit the hurdles in last year’s World Championship final and said: “I think he will break the world record soon.” McLeod ran 12.97 seconds to beat Parchment, the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, to win last year’s National Senior Championships. However, he struggled in the World Championships final where he placed sixth. Parchment peaked well at the Worlds to be runner-up to Russia’s Sergey Shubenkov. Graham isn’t the first to project world-record potential for McLeod. Just after McLeod’s Nationals wins, 1966 CAC silver medallist Ray Harvey said: “His form is immaculate, impeccable, but his speed is what really, I think, could propel him probably close to the world record.”last_img read more


Patience is key – Blake

first_imgIt has been a long road back for former world 100m champion Yohan Blake, who continues to lay the blocks for his comeback after two serious injuries in as many years derailed his career.Blake, the second-fastest man in history in both the 100m (9.69) and 200m (19.26), suffered a hamstring injury in 2013, forcing him to miss the chance of defending his title at the World Championships that year. He suffered yet another injury a few months later, sending him back on the shelf after a brief return.This time around, Blake, confident that he will eventually get back to his best, says he is exercising much more patience, competing at smaller meets, developing assurance, as he looks to take his conditioning up a few levels before the end of the season.Blake, who recently posted an encouraging season best of 10.12 (the fastest time ever run on Irish soil) in testing conditions at a meet in Dublin, Ireland, will today compete at the Dutch Championships.”I don’t have any doubts in my talent. There is no doubt, I am always confident in my ability,” Blake underlined. “During this comeback, I now know that I have to be patient because injuries take time to heal, and I have to do work to get the muscles strong again, so I have to be really patient with this,” said Blake, who also spoke about his run a week ago.”It was really a good experience running in Ireland. It was my first time competing there. It wasn’t great weather, but I still enjoyed it, and to become the fastest man to ever run in Ireland is really good,” Blake told The Gleaner.REGAINEDCONFIDENCE”Running at these small meets helps me to regain my confidence and also gives me a sense of where I am going because to start back at a high level is not easy, so it’s important to build myself up. This run in Ireland was worthwhile and the same for other smaller meets. This run in Ireland tells me that I am closer to where I want to be. It could have been better, but I am thankful,” Blake added.The 25-year-old competed at the National Senior Champion-ships but failed to make it to the final, missing a spot on Jamaica’s team to next month’s World Championships. While admitting that he was disappointed, Blake is certain his two runs there have not gone to waste.”We are humans, but I wasn’t that disappointed knowing how my training was going and everything, especially knowing I was just coming back. In my camp, the expectation wasn’t that high because they knew where I was, but to get in the runs was really good for me. Overall, everything is falling into place and I just have to take my time and work towards better things,” said Blake, while sharing his struggles in coming back from the injury.”The toughest thing about coming back has been the mental part of it. Knowing that the body has healed but in the back of your mind it was to overcome that you could go out there and perform and not be afraid to run fast,” Blake said.last_img read more


Patience is key – Blake

first_imgIt has been a long road back for former world 100m champion Yohan Blake, who continues to lay the blocks for his comeback after two serious injuries in as many years derailed his career.Blake, the second-fastest man in history in both the 100m (9.69) and 200m (19.26), suffered a hamstring injury in 2013, forcing him to miss the chance of defending his title at the World Championships that year. He suffered yet another injury a few months later, sending him back on the shelf after a brief return.This time around, Blake, confident that he will eventually get back to his best, says he is exercising much more patience, competing at smaller meets, developing assurance, as he looks to take his conditioning up a few levels before the end of the season.Blake, who recently posted an encouraging season best of 10.12 (the fastest time ever run on Irish soil) in testing conditions at a meet in Dublin, Ireland, will today compete at the Dutch Championships.”I don’t have any doubts in my talent. There is no doubt, I am always confident in my ability,” Blake underlined. “During this comeback, I now know that I have to be patient because injuries take time to heal, and I have to do work to get the muscles strong again, so I have to be really patient with this,” said Blake, who also spoke about his run a week ago.”It was really a good experience running in Ireland. It was my first time competing there. It wasn’t great weather, but I still enjoyed it, and to become the fastest man to ever run in Ireland is really good,” Blake told The Gleaner.REGAINEDCONFIDENCE”Running at these small meets helps me to regain my confidence and also gives me a sense of where I am going because to start back at a high level is not easy, so it’s important to build myself up. This run in Ireland was worthwhile and the same for other smaller meets. This run in Ireland tells me that I am closer to where I want to be. It could have been better, but I am thankful,” Blake added.The 25-year-old competed at the National Senior Champion-ships but failed to make it to the final, missing a spot on Jamaica’s team to next month’s World Championships. While admitting that he was disappointed, Blake is certain his two runs there have not gone to waste.”We are humans, but I wasn’t that disappointed knowing how my training was going and everything, especially knowing I was just coming back. In my camp, the expectation wasn’t that high because they knew where I was, but to get in the runs was really good for me. Overall, everything is falling into place and I just have to take my time and work towards better things,” said Blake, while sharing his struggles in coming back from the injury.”The toughest thing about coming back has been the mental part of it. Knowing that the body has healed but in the back of your mind it was to overcome that you could go out there and perform and not be afraid to run fast,” Blake said.last_img read more


More sports in brief

first_imgCourtney Walsh clinicsSupreme Ventures Limited (SVL) has renewed its sponsorship for the staging of this year’s Courtney Walsh Cricket Clinic.The success of the clinic in identifying and developing kids under 15 years with cricket talent islandwide has driven SVL to recommit $2.5m to the programme.The programme will run from August 11-17, with the main objective being to enhance the talent of each player who shows the potential to join Jamaica’s Under-15 team and by extension the West Indies junior teams, whilst teaching young players cricketing fundamentals on and off the field.The coordination and execution of this programme will be led by Walsh, the legendary West Indies fast bowler, and Robert Samuels, former West Indies opening batsman and Jamaica captain.”This year’s partnership gives us an opportunity to emphasise and showcase our loyalty to youth development through sports. The talent pool of young cricketers produced from the programme over the last seven years is commendable and due mainly to the vision and work of Walsh and his team as well as SVL’s strong association,” said Diahann Guy-Shepherd, sponsorships, promotions and branding manager for SVL.Clinic schedule:August 11 – Kingston and St AndrewAugust 12 – St Catherine and ClarendonAugust 15 – Manchester and St ElizabethAugust 17 – St James and Trelawnylast_img read more


Goalie Scott grabs headlines in TG win

first_imgHeroics by Tivoli Gardens’ outstanding goalkeeper and captain Edsel Scott led his team to a 2-0 win against Harbour View in the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) at the Edward Seaga Complex yesterday. Scott displayed his usual determination and ensured his team’s first victory of the new season after former Jamaica College schoolboy star Junior Flemmings, handed Tivoli a 34th minute lead when he easily beat Harbour View’s custodian Devon Haughton in goal. Scott however, grabbed the headlines, stepping up to the responsibility after Tivoli Gardens were awarded a penalty with uncertainty as to who should take the kick caused delays. Scott eventually left his goal area and confidently scored in the 71st minute. However, Harbour View were also awarded a penalty 16 minutes later giving the goalkeeper another shot at the bright lights. He duly obliged, extending himself to his right to make a remarkable save against Harbour View’s captain Nicholas Beckett. Beside those highlights, the game was dull for the most part as the players focused on hard tackles and individual plays. “Well coming into the season we needed a win, so although we were in a 1-0 lead at the time, the players wanted me to take the kick. “We had a good talk about the situation having two losses and two drawn results previously. Now we need to move forward,” Scott said. The veteran goalie also revealed that he has been playing in the nation’s top-flight football league for 23 years and that was his first goal. “This is my first goal since I start playing for Hazard in the 1991-92 season,” the 38-year-old said. Coach of Tivoli Christopher Bender was satisfied with his first win of the new season. “It was a sense of relief. We played better in the four previous games but failed to win. Now, we need to continue working hard in training,” Bender pointed out. When quizzed as to why the penalty was taken by the ‘keeper, Bender responded that,” he is the team’s penalty taker. “We wanted to give Flemmings the kick as a young player, but changed.” Losing coach Ludlow Bernard, says Tivoli must be commended for their fighting spirit. “Well, clearly we have to correct the situation. There were players out there who did not show commitment, so we will investigate and try to come up with the right team for the next game.” Bernard said. The win pushed Tivoli to five points, while Harbour remained on six, after five sets of games. FIRST GOALlast_img read more


More sports in brief

first_imgLynch out The Seattle Seahawks have downgraded running back Marshawn Lynch and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane to out for tonight’s game against the Detroit Lions. Seattle announced the status changes following the team’s walk-through practice yesterday. Lynch and Mebane had both been listed as questionable after Saturday’s final practice. Lynch injured one of his hamstrings late in the first half of Seattle’s 26-0 win over Chicago last Sunday. Mebane suffered a groin injury against the Bears and did not practice all week. BMX track receives poor grade RIO DE JANEIRO (AP): The BMX track for next year’s Rio Olympics hosted its first test event yesterday but received a poor grade from riders. The two-day test event was reduced to one day after some of the world’s top riders declined to race on Saturday, citing dangerous jumps and curves. Rio Organisers tried to modify the track for yesterday, but both men and women wound up using the women’s circuit as the men’s course was deemed too risky. Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes and Carlos Nuzman, head of the Rio organising committee, both said problems should be blamed on the world governing body of cycling, which they said had approved the track. Officials promised both layouts will be ready in 10 months when the Olympics open. Advocaat quits SUNDERLAND, England (AP): Dick Advocaat has quit struggling Sunderland, becoming the first Premier League manager this season to leave his job. The experienced Dutch coach stepped down with Sunderland winless after eight league games. The 68-year-old Advocaat was initially hired on a two-month deal last season and, after saving the team from relegation in May, he had a change of heart and decided to stay for a season. Now he is leaving without compensation.last_img read more


Jamaica Scorpions make strong reply in WICB First Class Championship

first_imgPORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):Trinidad and Tobago Red Force were propelled by Jeremy Solozano’s maiden first-class hundred, but Jamaica Scorpions were making a strong reply on the second day of their Regional First Class Championship here yesterday.Solozano, in his first outing of the championship, hit 110 to help lift Red Force to 271 in their first innings, after the hosts resumed on 145 for five at Queen’s Park Oval. Wicketkeeper Steven Katwaroo struck 45, while tail-ender Marlon Richards chimed in with 26.Seamer David Bernard Jr picked up three for 25 to spearhead the Scorpions attack.Scorpions then lost John Campbell for two to the eighth ball of the innings with the score on three, but recovered to reach 119 for three at the close.Andre McCarthy was leading the fightback on 49 and was partnered by former skipper Tamar Lambert on 12.Captain Paul Palmer made 35, his first double figure score in five innings this season.Rookie seamer Daniel St Clair struck a crucial blow before tea when he had the left-handed Campbell caught at the wicket.Palmer and Barbadian Kirk Edwards, who scored 19, then repaired the innings in a 43-run, second-wicket stand, taking the visitors to the break at 36 for one.The right-handed Edwards perished in the sixth over after tea, lbw to off-spinner Narsingh Deonarine, but Palmer combined with McCarthy to add 27 for the third wicket.Palmer, whose previous innings yielded nine runs, faced 70 balls in nearly 1-3/4 hours at the crease and stroked five fours before going bowled by leg-spinner Imran Khan.Any thoughts Red Force had of making further inroads were quickly dashed as McCarthy and Lambert, in his 97th first-class match, came together to see Scorpions safely to the close in an unbroken fourth-wicket partnership worth 46.The right-handed McCarthy has struck seven fours in a breezy 66-ball knock, while Lambert has batted just over an hour and counted two boundaries.Volcanoes beat HurricanesAT WINDSOR PARK: Windward Islands Volcanoes defeated Leeward Islands Hurricanes by eight wickets on the second day of their third-round game here yesterday.Scores: HURRICANES 24 for seven declared. (Kevin McCLean 2-2, Mervin Matthews 2-6, Kenroy Peters 2-12) and 170 (Nkrumah Bonner 64, Shane Jeffers 30; Liam Sebastien 5-75, Alston Bobb 4-48). VOLCANOES 140 (Tyrone Theophile 62, Andre Fletcher 31; Alzarri Joseph 7-48, Rahkeem Cornwall 2-28) and 56 for two (Johnson Charles 21 not out).AT GUYANA NATIONAL STADIUM: Barbados Pride, replying to Guyana Jaguars’ first innings of 337 all out, were 60 for four at the close on the second day of their third-round match here yesterday.Scores: JAGUARS 337 (Vishaul Singh 121, Leon Johnson 74, Assad Fudadin 42, Raymon Reifer 32, Shimron Hetmyer 24; Kevin Stoute 3-40, Roston Chase 2-28). PRIDE 60 for four (Veerasammy Permaul 2-24).last_img read more


Russell cameo fails to save Islamabad

first_imgDUBAI, UAE (CMC):AndrÈ Russell’s cameo was not enough to save Islamabad United as they plunged to a comprehensive eight-wicket defeat to Quetta Gladiators in the opening game of the inaugural Pakistan Super League yesterday.Sent in at the Dubai International Stadium, Gladiators finished on 128 for seven off their 20 overs with West Indies all-rounder Russell blasting a quick-fire unbeaten 35.They were slumping at 63 for six in the 15th over when Russell joined captain Misbah-ul-Haq to post a frenzied 57 from 27 balls in an entertaining seventh-wicket stand.The right-handed Russell faced 20 balls and struck four fours and a six while Misbah top-scored with 41 from 28 deliveries, with four fours and a six.Left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz finished with four for 13 from his four overs.In reply, Gladiators raced to their target with four overs to spare, thanks to English opener Luke Wright’s terrific 86 not out off 53 deliveries.He counted 11 fours and four sixes and put on 53 for the first wicket with Pakistani Ahmed Shehzad (11) and a further 59 in an unbroken third-wicket partnership with Nawaz, who stroked a run-a-ball 22 not out.Medium pacer Russell was expensive in his two-over spell, conceding 31 runs, while West Indies leg-spinner Samuel Badree also went wicket-less from three overs, which cost 25 runs.last_img read more


Chile exam for locals

first_imgLocal-based players can expect an opportunity to play when the Reggae Boyz take on world number-three ranked Chile in a football friendly international in Santiago this Friday. The Boyz leave the island today with six local-based players making up the squad which will compete in the Copa Centenario, which runs from June 2-26 in the United States. Jamaica team manager, Roy Simpson, told The Gleaner that in discussions with head coach Winfried Sch‰fer, the emphasis has been on exposing local players and looking at other options. “The Chile game is to look at the local players and areas that need addressing. Chile is a good team, but on any given day, Jamaica can beat Chile. The coaching staff is hoping for the best result, but we have to be practical. They are better than us, but we want to get the specific objectives and roles the coach has for the players. Once those objectives are met, we should be good going into the Copa Centenario,” he explained. Simpson added that the local selection has been settling in nicely and expects a good account from those who will be given the opportunity. “The local players we have selected, we try to be consistent. There is Ottey (Allan), who we believe it’s the time for him to show what he’s about. Vanzie (Andrew) is a midfielder, and a youngster getting an opportunity like that he hopes he will stand up. Michael Binns is at an age where he should be on par with the pros; Rosario Harriott, with his height and pace, can be a regular international. “But the harder they work, the more opportunity they’ll get, and we are confident this bunch will give a good account of themselves,” he said. Portmore’s Damano Solomon completes the list of local players. OVERSEAS PLAYERS The overseas-based players are Garath McCleary, captain Rodolph Austin, Andre Blake (GK), Ryan Thompson (GK), Michael Hector, Wes Morgan, Dever Orgill, Clayton Donaldson, Giles Barnes, Jobi McAnuff, Duwayne Kerr, Je-Vaughn Watson, Lee Williamson, Simon Dawkins, Adrian Mariappa, Kemar Lawrence and Jermaine Taylor. Meanwhile, Austin and Blake will join the team after the Chile game at the team’s training camp in Florida, while Morgan will join up for the first game in Chicago. “We are ready to have another good summer,” Simpson said, reflecting on last year when the team played creditably in the Copa America (as a guest team) and followed up with a historic runner-up finish at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States.last_img read more