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

Bracket busted: 10 of top 13 women’s seeds gone at US Open

first_imgAngelique Kerber, of Germany, reacts against Dominika Cibulkova, of Slovakia, during the third round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)NEW YORK — Dickie V found a totally awesome PTP’er in the U.S Open’s women’s bracket.His pick is on point — Madison Keys knows how to make a Final Four.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Only No. 3 seed and defending champion Sloane Stephens remains among the top six women.On Saturday alone, No. 6 Caroline Garcia, No. 10 Jelena Ostapenko and No. 13 Kiki Bertens were eliminated, too.The early stunners seem to clear the field for No. 17 seed — oh, and six-time champion — Serena Williams to move in on another title.“I think she’s playing really good tennis,” Keys said.Maybe the losses are a case — or curse — of the Louis Armstrong blues.Halep, Wozniacki, Kerber and Kvitova were all beaten at the new Louis Armstrong Stadium. Two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza lost there, too, in the second round.The 14th-seeded Keys has stuck around in a field smacked with upsets.Keys whiffed on an overhead, fought a case of first-set jitters and never found a groove with her backhand. She rallied after dropping the first set and the U.S. Open finalist from a year ago beat Aleksandra Krunic 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday.Keys plays Cibulkova in the quarters.“I think she’s super feisty,” Keys said. Keys lost to Stephens in the final last year and lost to her again this year in the French Open semis. But Keys has been plagued with various injuries (right wrist and ribs, notably) most of the season and slipped out of the top 10 in the rankings.Krunic beat Keys four years ago at Ashe and the Serb seemed poised to do it again when she took the first set. Keys rebounded to win 12 of the last 15 games and thanked the pro-American fans for pulling her through into the round of 16.“The biggest confidence boost for me has been being able to get myself back into those matches and knowing that in a situation like today, if I make some adjustments and stay calm, then I can usually figure things out,” Keys said.Keys’ parents are both attorneys and she picked up some jargon — from a different kind of court — when she explained how she fanned on an overhead.“In my defense,” she said, laughing, “the sun was right there. The ball went right there and I couldn’t see it. You know, it happens. At least it doesn’t happen to everyone else on national television.”She pleaded the fifth when asked how having the top seeds out of the tourney affects her and potentially makes for an easier road back to the final. Like everyone else who watched, she couldn’t ignore, though, the dominance by Williams over sister Venus Williams on Friday night. Serena equaled her most-lopsided victory against her sister with a 6-1, 6-2 rout.“I think she played really well. You obviously have to play well to beat Venus,” Keys said.The 23-year-old Keys joined Stephens, Venus Williams and CoCo Vandeweghe for an all-American semifinals at last year’s Open. Keys’ run to the French Open semifinals showed an overall development of her game. Her big-hitting style makes her more of a natural fit on hard courts and there’s no reason she couldn’t have another long stay in New York.“Coming into here, I was, like, ‘Oh, last time I was in here, I lost.’ That’s fun,” Keys said, smiling. “It’s fine. I’m not torn up about it.” MOST READ Gretchen Barretto’s daughter Dominique graduates magna cum laude from California college “Madison’s backhand is lethal !” Vitale tweeted Saturday from the Open . “Her physical skills r #awesomebaby.”Keys was one of the fortunate favorites in the Open, as she survived-and-advanced to the Sweet 16.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSJapeth Aguilar wins 1st PBA Finals MVP award for GinebraSPORTSTim Cone still willing to coach Gilas but admits decision won’t be ‘simple yes or no’But much like Vitale would say in a March stuffed with busted brackets, the women’s side is loaded with upset specials.Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber was eliminated, leaving none of this year’s Grand Slam winners left in the U.S. Open. And No. 5 Petra Kvitova lost later, meaning only three of the top 13 women’s seeds remain in the field. And it’s still just Week 1 in Flushing Meadows. Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Palace OKs total deployment ban on Kuwait OFWs ‘High crimes and misdemeanors’: Trump impeachment trial begins View comments It’s similar to the way things went at the last major tournament: For the first time in Wimbledon history, none of the top five women’s seeds reached the round of 16. And only one of the top 10 made it to the second week there.On Saturday in New York, No. 29 seed Dominika Cibulkova rallied Saturday to beat the fourth-seeded Kerber 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. No. 26 Aryna Sabalenka beat Kvitova 7-5, 6-1 at night.“I was not able actually to play my best tennis in the important moment,” Kerber said.Join the club.Top-ranked Simona Halep, the French Open champion, was eliminated in the first round. Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki, the No. 2 seed, fell in the second.ADVERTISEMENT Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew Peza offers relief to ecozone firms Gov’t in no rush to rescue animals in Taal Judy Ann’s 1st project for 2020 is giving her a ‘stomachache’ Will you be the first P16 Billion Powerball jackpot winner from the Philippines? Weather woes hit college football, stadiums cleared Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. DepEd’s Taal challenge: 30K students displacedlast_img read more