Mon | Jan 22, 2018

Letter of the day| Give coach Francis his due

Published:Monday | August 29, 2016 | 12:00 AM


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

The gritting of her teeth by Elaine Thompson - evident in The Gleaner's August 18, 2016 front-page photograph of her in that epic 200-metre battle with Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands - may be seen as emblematic of the drive, the resolve and 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 200-metre gold medal for women at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In 2009, following the award of the Order of Jamaica to me, I wrote to The Gleaner and the Jamaica Observer indicating that I would surrender the award to Mr Glen Mills and Mr Stephen Francis, the two best track and field coaches in the world and both of whom I regarded as more deserving of the award. In the end, Mr Glen Mills has, quite rightly, been awarded 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 Mr Francis has to convert into world-beaters athletes with an undistinguished record up to the age of 18, as witnessed by 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 100 metres.

It is shocking that seven years after I wrote the abovementioned letter, Mr Francis has not been awarded the OJ. This failing must be corrected in the next awarding of national honours.

Patrick Lipton Robinson