Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
World Championships 4x400m silver medallist, Javon Francis, was the toast of Calabar High school yesterday afternoon, as a function was held in his honour at the Red Hills Road-based institution.
Francis shot to world prominence at the World Championships held in Russia last month, following his blistering 44-second split on anchor to catapult Jamaica's 4x400 metres quartet from fifth - and outside the medals - to a surprising silver inside the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Two coaches and former old boys, as well as a number of the school's former athletes who have gone on to represent the country, were also honoured at the two-hour appreciation function. They are World Championships 200m silver medallist, Warren Weir, Dwight Thomas, Andrew Riley, Jason Livermore, Oshane Bailey, Michael O'Hara, veteran coach Fitz Coleman and head of the track and field programme at the school for the past 12 years, Michael Clarke.
Other students were also recognised for their academic performances and extra-curricular activities.
Spotlight on Francis
The spotlight, however, was totally on the 18-year-old fifth form student, Francis, who received two plaques and a Samsung Galaxy S4 Android smart phone from managing director of LIME Jamaica, Gary Sinclair.
"I feel good about what Calabar has done for me; keep a function for me and I really appreciate it," Francis shared. "I know it's the hard work, so I'm going to still work hard and maintain and also focus on my schoolwork and do what I'm supposed to do."
Francis is the first World Championships medallist to have passed through coach Clarke's hands, and he was naturally pleased with the recognition that his young charge was receiving.
"It's a humbling, exciting and very fulfilling experience, and it is testimony to the fact that hard work does have its reward," Clarke expressed. "This is just one of them that I'm enjoying and basking in at the moment."
Francis, who is son to Violet Palmer and Donald Francis, has been living with Andrea Hardware in Kingston and she paid tribute to his parents for producing such a special young man.
"Javon is the only student athlete that I have come across that will have a bad day in training and he goes back the next day and doubles his effort," Hardware said. "I didn't get an empty canvas; I got an individual from his parents that I could continue to mold into who he is right now."
Principal of the 101-year-old institution, Albert Corcho, wants the achievements of Francis to serve as motivation to students at the all-boy school. He also intends to make the function an annual one to recognise the outstanding students at the institution.
"What we also want to do is use this as a motivating tool for the other boys here, for them to understand the importance of working hard and not giving up," Corcho said.
"This is something that we are going to be doing every single year to highlight those young men among us, who are doing very well in academics and in sports."
Coleman, who, in addition to being an outstanding coach, is also a past student and past teacher of the school, was very grateful for the gesture.
"It brings a lot of memories back ... it is something that I certainly appreciate," Coleman said.