Noted Jamaica track and field coach Stephen Francis expects collegiate athletes to be hardest hit by the current shutdown surrounding the coronavirus pandemic but insists all is not yet lost.

The rapid onslaught of the infectious disease has seen the postponement or cancellation of sporting events around the globe.  In a bid to halt the spread of the virus, many universities in the United States have closed their doors, with the National Collegiate Athletic Association taking the decision to axe its spring athletics season last week.

Further afield, pressure continues to mount on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the Tokyo Games, with the latest news suggesting a decision would be reached in four weeks’ time.  With the universities serving as a home, training base and source of frequent and healthy competition for athletes who may qualify to take part in the Olympics, Francis believes they will be hardest hit.  The list could include several Jamaicans. 

“The biggest problem I see is the NCs (NCAA) because that is where you have the most breakthroughs, so to speak, and that’s cancelled,” Francis told RJR Sports.

“Those athletes can’t even train because their coaches are gone home and the universities are closed, so most of them are without a coach,” he added.

“But by and large for most of the world much hasn’t changed, people still, for the most part, can do their workouts; they can’t compete but it’s up to the coaches to devise methods for substituting for competition.”

Francis believes, however, that athlete should not worry about missing out on the Olympics Games if it is cancelled, as there would still be opportunities to shine. 

“Every year you have people that make a breakthrough, but I don’t think you need the Olympics to make a breakthrough.  You can make a breakthrough so long as there are meets to be run."

Francis has coached the likes of Olympics and world champion medallists Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Melanie Walker, Brigitte Foster-Hylton and Asafa Powell.

 

 

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