Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Francis ready for final push

Published:Saturday | August 13, 2016 | 8:00 AM
Jamaica’s Javon Francis (left) coming off the top of the final turn in his men’s 400 metres heat behind South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk. Van Niekerk won the heat in 45.26 seconds with Francis placing third in 45.88.

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil:

Javon Francis knows he has a few things to work on ahead of today's men's 400 metres semi-finals, but feels he is ready to make a serious push for the final at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Francis left it late, but finished third in his heat inside the Olympic Stadium last night in a time of 45.88, with world champion Wayde van Niekerk (South Africa) winning comfortably in 45.26 ahead of Luguelin Santos (Dominican Republic), 45.61.

The Jamaican, who made it as far as the semi-final at the 2013 and 2015 World Championships, says he is ready to take it one step further and assures that he knows exactly what he needs to do to achieve this.

"I believe it will take a 44.1 or 44.2 to get in the final and I will try my best to make it into the final," said Francis ahead of today's semi-finals, which start at 6:30 p.m. "I think I am ready. I am in great shape, so it's about going out there and executing my race properly.

"I just wanted to come out here and qualify, and I know that tomorrow (today) I will have to do a bit more," he added before sharing his views on last night's run.

"I ran my last 200m too slowly. Normally, I would come off the turn much stronger, so that is something I have to work on, but every time I run against the older and more experienced guys in the event I learn the 400m more and more, so the more I run it, the more I learn it," he said.

NO CONCERN

Francis said he wasn't concerned about van Niekerk overtaking him at the top of the curve, noting that he did his best to remain calm and focus on executing his race plan.

"I didn't panic. I stayed focused. At one point, I said to myself that I should go with him, but I reminded myself that it wasn't a final and that I should run my own race," said Francis.

Francis has now finished in the top three of all of his 14 races this year. Just four of those were run outside of Jamaica, but he also arrived in Rio de Janeiro with a season's best time of 44.77 seconds - one of his five sub-45 seconds times this year. This makes him the fastest Jamaican in the event.