Wed | Jul 18, 2018

Stephen Francis, OJ, has a nice ring to it

Published:Saturday | August 27, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Jamaican place names like Elaine Thompson's Banana Ground hark back to the era of enslavement. 'Groun'' was land used by the enslaved to grow crops for their own food consumption.

The gritting of teeth evident in The Gleaner's August 18, 2016 front-page photograph of Elaine Thompson in that epic 200m battle with Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands may be seen as emblematic of the drive, the resolve and the determination of her enslaved ancestors and ours as well. Today, we must call on the same mettle and strength of will if we are to succeed in making Jamaica the best that it can be in all spheres of national endeavour.

I hope that no one asks Elaine to apologise to the King of the Netherlands for the disappointment he must have suffered when he discovered that he would not be in a position to hand over the gold medal to his country's worthy representative. In that context, and so as to forestall any future disappointment of dignitaries, I suggest that the International Olympic Committee invite the prime minister of Jamaica to hand over the 200m gold medal for women at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In 2009, following my induction into the Order of Jamaica, I wrote to The Gleaner and the Jamaica Observer indicating that I would surrender the award to Glen Mills and Stephen Francis, the two best track and field coaches in the world and both of whom I regarded as more deserving of the honour. In the result, Mr Mills has quite rightly been made a member of the Order of Jamaica, but Mr Francis, quite strangely, has not. There is no excuse for this lapse.

There is no coach in the entire world who can match the ability that Mr Francis has to convert into world-beaters athletes with an undistinguished record up to the age of 18, as witness what he accomplished with Asafa Powell and Elaine Thompson, who came to him with times no better than 10.60 seconds, and 11.70 seconds, respectively, in the 100m.

It is shocking that seven years after I wrote the above-mentioned letter, Mr Francis has not been inducted into the Order of Jamaica. This failing must be corrected in the next award of national honours.