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Help universities, colleges, clubs to unearth talent - Francis

Published:Friday | September 16, 2016 | 9:00 AMShane Fairman
Stephen Francis

MVP Track Club's head coach, Stephen Francis, feels Jamaica's sprinting programme will never replace nine-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt, but he has urged track and field's stakeholders to assist the universities, colleges and clubs to develop and turn out future world class talents.

"Well I think we are going to have a problem obviously when Usain Bolt decides to call it a day. There is no obvious replacement it appears on the male side," he said.

Francis was, however, quick to point out that Bolt, the only man in history to win three consecutive triple track and field gold medals at the Olympics is the standard bearer, but he is hoping to discover the next big male athlete at his MVP track base.

"I think at UTech we have a programme which would probably like to turn up somebody, but I don't think there is anybody who can even begin to compare to Usain," said Francis.

He admitted that Jamaica's current and upcoming stock of athletes will be of a lower level.

"The people who we have ... are at a lower level," Francis reasoned.

Bolt who is coached by Francis' counterpart Glen Mills, is the fastest man ever at 100 and 200 metres with his records standing at 9.58 and 19.19 seconds respectively.

Francis was speaking at an official welcome home function on Tuesday night inside the Pineapple Lounge at the Norman Manley International Airport. He, and members of the MVP Track Club, had just returned home from their camp in Europe. They had travelled to compete on the Diamond League circuit, following outstanding performances at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

 

ALLOW TO STUDY AND TRAIN

 

"Right now we are dependent on UTech, UWI, GC Foster and Mico to make a contribution to allow these kids to study and train at the same time and we have to make sure that, that contribution does not diminish," Francis said.

According to the veteran coach who has nurtured numerous Olympic and IAAF World Championships stars, Jamaica's programme needs to ensure that people like medical personnel get the experience that they desire and the clubs are not heavily penalised when they try to acquire gym equipment and technology for their athletes.

"Those are the things that we need. We don't want to be like the football people who try from top up, then they hire a great coach and try to make things happen without investing from the bottom," he warned.