Following Olympic qualification, Danusia Francis describes 2019 as best year of her life

By October 08, 2019

In the wake of qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, on the weekend, Jamaican gymnast Danusia Francis has described 2019 as the best year of her professional life.

Francis competed together with two other members of Jamaica's women's team at the 2019 World Championships in Germany and qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games having finished ninth among the top 20 athletes who were not on a qualifying team. She scored 13.5 in the vault, 12.35 on the uneven bars event and 12.566 in both the balance beam and the floor exercise events.

It was only in April that Francis wowed the world at the Superstars of Gymnastics. Her show-stopping routines went viral and thrust her into the international spotlight.

“This has been one of the best years of my whole career. The whole build-up, being able to go viral on the internet after my O2 Arena performance earlier this year and getting all the support from all the Jamaicans back home. All of that support just pushed me in the right direction to now getting my spot for the Games next year,” Francis told Sportsmax.TV on Sunday, revealing that she went through a wave of emotions when she found out she qualified.

“The range of emotions that I went through after finding out that I had qualified for the Olympics was a bit of relief because I knew I could do this but I have worked so hard to point so obviously, it still has to go right on the day,” she said.

“Disbelief, I still don’t know that it’s sunk in yet or that it will sink in when I am out there in Tokyo wearing the Jamaican flag; and yeah, extreme pride. I am so proud of myself, and happiness.”

Unlike previous years, the World Championships offered gymnasts an opportunity for direct entry into the Olympic Games. Francis said it was what gave her the chance to realise her dream.

“This was probably the most important competition of my whole entire life. The other times where I have had chances to qualify for the Olympics, it had not been so straight-forward so this one was if I did my job I would qualify myself, my name, Danusia Francis, representing Jamaica at the Olympics,” she said.

“So, it was a more straight-forward approach for this Olympic cycle. So knowing that if I did my job I was going to qualify it made it a very important competition.”


Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

Related items

  • Ozil has no regrets over Germany retirement or Erdogan photo Ozil has no regrets over Germany retirement or Erdogan photo

    Mesut Ozil insists he regrets neither his infamous photo with controversial Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan nor his international retirement that came amid the subsequent furore.

    Arsenal star Ozil ended his nine-year Germany career in ugly circumstances last year, with the playmaker previously coming in for significant criticism.

    In May 2018, Ozil and Germany team-mate Ilkay Gundogan – both of whom are of Turkish descent – met and had photos with Erdogan ahead of Turkey's general election.

    The move was perceived by some as a show of support for the politician who was re-elected days later despite protests over his government's alleged systematic arrest of journalists, civil rights activists and political opponents.

    Both players were jeered by Germany supporters in pre-World Cup friendlies, but the German Football Association (DFB) opted against public criticism, instead attempting to urge focus on the upcoming campaign in Russia.

    After the tournament, where Joachim Low's defending champions made an early exit, Ozil published a letter clarifying the context of the Erdogan photo before then accusing the DFB, its president and other high-profile German officials of racism and disrespect, as he announced his international retirement.

    Ozil has no regrets and told The Athletic: "[Erdogan] is the current president of Turkey and I would show respect to that person, whoever it was. Although I was born and raised in Germany, Turkey is part of my heritage.

    "If the German president or [chancellor] Angela Merkel are in London and ask to see me, to speak to me, of course I would do that as well. It's just about showing respect to the highest position of a country.

    "With time to reflect, I know it was the right decision. It was a very difficult period for me as I played nine years for Germany and was one of their most successful players. I won the World Cup and more, played a lot of games - a lot of them really good - and gave everything.

    "I don't say people must love me but just show respect about what I've done for Germany. The team was always competitive, but they wanted to play a more attractive style, all age groups using the ball better. A bit like Spain.

    "My generation changed German football. It became more fun to watch. But after the photo, I felt disrespected and unprotected.

    "I was receiving racist abuse - even from politicians and public figures - yet nobody from the national team came out at that time and said, 'Hey, stop. This is our player, you can't insult him like that'. Everyone just kept quiet and let it happen.

    "It felt like I was expected to apologise for the meeting, admit I'd made a mistake and then everything would be fine; otherwise I was not welcome in the team and should leave. I would never do that.

    "Racism has always been there, but people used this situation as an excuse to let it out.

    "They are free to have a personal view, to dislike a photo I've taken, just as I'm free to make a personal decision to have the photo taken, but what followed exposed their racism for everyone to see.

    "When we were knocked out [of the World Cup] and I came off the pitch, German people were telling me, 'Go back to your country', 'F*** yourself', 'Turkish pig' and stuff like that.

    "Before the tournament, there was a friendly in Leverkusen and when the ball came to Ilkay Gundogan, most of the stadium was booing him. I heard them shouting, 'Goat f*****’, 'F****** Turkish boy' and other insults I can't repeat.

    "But what upset me most was the reaction of the school I went to in Gelsenkirchen. I've always supported them and we decided to do a year-long programme together. At the end, I was going to attend a ceremony and meet all of the staff and children, many from immigrant backgrounds.

    "Everything was planned, but then the school director told my team I should not come because of the media attention and the rise of the right-wing AfD party in their city.

    "I couldn't believe it. My home town, my school. I gave them my hand but they didn't give theirs back. I've never felt so unwelcome.

    "I'm proud to still work with one charity, who provide operations for children worldwide, and they stood by me. But the national team chapter is over."

  • Low commends Germany fortitude following gritty win over Estonia Low commends Germany fortitude following gritty win over Estonia

    Joachim Low applauded a weakened Germany for battling through adversity in the 3-0 win over Estonia that put them on the cusp of Euro 2020 qualification.

    Emre Can's 14th-minute dismissal for a last-man foul on Frank Liivak left the visitors at risk of a potentially embarrassing result in Tallinn on Sunday but two deflected strikes from Ilkay Gundogan after half-time dug Low's men out of a hole.

    The Manchester City midfielder then set up the sealer for Timo Werner as Germany edged three points clear of third-place Northern Ireland in Group C with two games remaining.

    Toni Kroos, Matthias Ginter, Serge Gnabry and several more regular squad members missed the Estonia match through injury, while Werner and Gundogan only returned to the fold after skipping last week's friendly against Argentina due to illness and a muscle problem respectively.

    "Firstly, I'm happy we got the job done," Low said after the victory, his team's fifth in six qualifying fixtures.

    "It was tough work out there. The team did well in the second half. We kept a clean sheet and scored three goals.

    "The decisive factor was that we increased the tempo in the second half and kept calm.

    "A lot has gone wrong this week with all the injuries and withdrawals. 

    "It took a bit of improvisation. We did not train much. The first half against Argentina was good and the second against Estonia, so we can still analyse that and gain good insights."

    Goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer agreed with his head coach's assessment, deeming the result and performance acceptable given the circumstances.

    He said: "We were down to 10 men after 15 minutes, which makes everything more difficult as you have to reset.

    "Because of that, I didn't think it was a bad performance.

    "It was a matter of time that the goals would come. Eventually we put them away."

  • Gundogan hits back at criticism for liking controversial Tosun post Gundogan hits back at criticism for liking controversial Tosun post

    Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan hit back after he was criticised for liking a supposedly politically charged social media post from Turkey striker Cenk Tosun, insisting he was only trying to "support" a friend.

    Everton forward Tosun scored a late winner in Turkey's 1-0 victory over Albania on Friday – he and team-mates celebrating with a military-style salute.

    Those actions were widely interpreted as a gesture of support of Turkey's armed offensive against Kurds in Syria.

    Tosun subsequently posted a photo of celebration on social media and Gundogan and Germany team-mate Emre Can 'liked' the upload.

    But Gundogan – who has previously been pictured with Turkey's controversial president Recep Tayyip Erdogan – insists he was not trying to make a political statement by interacting with Tosun's post.

    "It is blatant what is written these days is for clicks. I thought I liked a photo of a friend I've lived with in Manchester, who's having a tough time at Everton, barely playing, then scoring a goal and leading his team to victory," Gundogan told reporters after scoring a brace in Germany's 3-0 win over Estonia.

    "Next, I believe 200,000 other people have liked this image, footballers from all over the world. Then we are the two picked and made a story out of. It's a pity.

    "There was absolutely no political intention behind it. Emre and I are both consistent against any kind of war and terror, no matter where it takes place in the world.

    "That's why it was only intended as a pure support for our friend."  

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.