Gold Over America Tour another chance to put Jamaica's gymnastics on show - Danusia Francis

By March 04, 2021

Jamaica’s Olympic-bound gymnast Danusia Francis believes her inclusion in Simone Biles’ Gold Over America Tour is another opportunity for her to highlight Jamaica’s gymnastics on an international stage.

Francis, who will be Jamaica’s lone representative in Tokyo this summer, is part of a group of world-class gymnasts set to tour 35 cities across the USA from September through November this year. Biles, considered by many to be the greatest gymnast in history, recently announced that the tour will feature “some of the most exciting female athletes in the world right now in a way you’ve never seen before.”

“My friends Laurie Hernandez, Katelyn Ohashi, Peng Peng Lee, Danusia Francis, Morgan Hurd, and an all-star team of gymnasts will share our favourite moves and stories and hope to inspire a whole new generation of superstars,” Biles said on the Gold Over America Tour Instagram account.

For Francis, this presents an exciting opportunity for both her and the country she represents.

“It is such a huge deal for me, especially to be able to put Jamaica on the map like that with literally the world’s best gymnasts,” she told Sportsmax.TV.

“I am so excited and just to keep proving and showing and highlighting Jamaica in the gymnastics world. So it’s not only a big deal for me but it is a big deal for Jamaica to keep showing that we are here in the gymnastics world and just stamping our place. I am excited to represent Jamaica on such an amazing stage.”

Valorie Kondos-Field, her coach at UCLA where she was a six-time All American gymnast, made it possible to be part of the tour.

“My coach recommended me and then the people in charge showed a bit of interest and reached out to me initially just to say they were interested and eventually it all went through,” Francis told Sportsmax.TV this week.

“Obviously, because I don’t live in the US, they had to sort out visas and stuff so it was kind of up in the air for a bit so I was all excited when all went through.”

The beautiful and talented Francis, whose father is Jamaican, came to global prominence in March 2019 on the back of her electrifying routines at the Superstars of Gymnastics showcase at the O2 Arena in London. Biles, who also performed, was among the many who were enthralled by how engaging and entertaining her performances were.

She guessed that those performances might have been a deciding factor in the organizers selecting her to on the tour.

“I imagine that the performances that I did in the O2 Arena; obviously Simone got to see me in that way where it was not a competition but you really had to engage the audience. So, this tour is headlined by her so I am sure she had some sort of input as to who was on the tour, so I think it helped,” she said.

“It definitely didn’t do any harm as I think it really showed me in my element doing gymnastics and performing to a crowd and really enjoying it.”

She anticipates she will have a really good time in the USA during the tour after hopefully landing Jamaica’s first-ever Olympic medal in gymnastics in Tokyo.

“I think the experience will be so exciting getting to enjoy gymnastics with so many talented gymnasts rather than competing against each other or competing in general,” she said.

“It’s just going to be a celebration and a huge performance so we will just get to enjoy each other’s gymnastics and cheer each other on and perform for the audiences. I think it will be so good.”

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 SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

Related items

  • From the streets of St Ann to Lisbon: Jody Brown’s first pro contract with Benfica the pinnacle of success on an inspiring journey From the streets of St Ann to Lisbon: Jody Brown’s first pro contract with Benfica the pinnacle of success on an inspiring journey

    To say that Jody Brown’s signing of her first professional contract with Portuguese women’s top-flight club, SL Benfica, is a milestone achievement for both her career and Jamaican football would be a great understatement.

    Not only will she be the first player from Jamaica or the Caribbean to parade her skills for the club, which is one of Europe’s most prestigious setups, but she will also realize a lifelong dream on a journey that started on the streets of Lime Hall, St Ann, where she honed her skills with a makeshift ball and an insatiable passion for the game.

    It was during that time, when she rubbed shoulders with the boys in her community, that her talent quickly became evident, resulting in her inclusion in local teams and, eventually, Jamaica’s national programme.

    Now, the 22-year-old takes a significant step forward in her career with the three-year move to Benfica, where her athleticism and nippy footwork will certainly be an asset.

    “Signing with Benfica is a dream come true," Brown told SportsMax.TV, the pride and emotion evident in her tone.

    Brown puts pen to paper

    “I remember when I just started playing football with the boys in my community, I always aspired to play professionally, and to do so with a club like Benfica is an incredible honour. It’s a nice club, with a lot of history and I always strived to ensure that whichever club I join is one where I can improve and develop my game at a different level. So I’m really excited to join Benfica and can’t wait to get started,” she declared.

    Brown's rise in football has been somewhat meteoric, as she first captured international attention at the Under-15 level and she hasn’t looked back since.

    In fact, Brown is one of only a few players who have so far represented the country at all four levels — Under-15, Under-17, Under-20 and now the senior level. And she has done so with distinction, as she played a crucial role in Jamaica's historic qualification for the 2019 and 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cups.

    "Being a part of Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz has been an amazing experience. It's where I learned to handle pressure and developed my game against some of the best players in the world and I can say that those experiences have prepared me for this next step in my career,” she shared.

    “If I should attribute my rise to this level to anything, I would say it is a testament of all the hard work, dedication, and support from my family, coaches, and teammates over the years,” added Brown, who recently assisted Florida State University to the NCAA Division 1 Women's Championship and their retention of the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship title last season.

    Brown shares the occasion with former Reggae Girlz Head coach Hue Menzies.

    Standing at a shade over 5ft 2in, Brown’s physical presence is by no means imposing, but when the ball is at her feet, she is bound to cause all kinds of problems. It is that explosiveness and the ease at which she glides past opponents on occasions that will make the Reggae Girlz winger a key factor at SL Benfica.

    Beyond that, Brown, who has a Bachelor's degree in Humanities, believes the club’s strong commitment to developing talent, coupled with the fact that the Portuguese league is known for its technical style of play, provides the perfect environment for her to continue her growth.

    “The opportunity to train and play at such a high level is something I'm really looking forward to as I always aim to grow more as a player and a person, so I can't wait to learn from my new teammates and coaches and to contribute to the team's success. Benfica has a fantastic reputation, and I'm excited to be part of this club's journey,” she noted.

    ⁠Still, Brown is aware that adjusting to live in Portugal and her club will by no means be easy, but she remains grounded and focused, with a stubborn determination to make a positive impact both on and off the field.

    Benfica, the current champions of Portugal, will be involved in Champions League football next season.

    “⁠I’m just ready to get settled and hopefully achieve all the goals of the team. I’m ready to adapt in every way possible because that’s a part of the journey of wanting to be the best person or player in an environment where you are not afraid to be yourself. I know what I’m capable of doing and I’m just going to continue learning and improving,” the soft-spoken player said with an air of confidence.

    Brown shows off her team scarf.

    Meanwhile, former Reggae Girlz Head coach Hue Menzies, who along with Lorne Donaldson, Andrew Price and others were instrumental in Brown’s move from Jamaica to an overseas university, pointed out that her signing is not only a personal achievement, but also a significant moment for Jamaican women's football.

    For him, it highlights the growing opportunities for talented players from the island to make their mark on the global stage, as he expressed optimism that Brown’s success will serve as an inspiration to young footballers in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

    “It shows that with talent and determination, they too can reach the pinnacle of the sport. We knew she was going to be a special player, so we invested the effort to get her through the process, because she was only 14, so we had to get her acclimated academically and then get her into the youth club system.

    “From there, we got her into high school academically and then having opportunities to go to a four-year school immediately after. And then into a really good programme at Florida State where she won two national titles, and four conference titles and she's now becoming a professional player,” Menzies explained.

    “So everything that we kind of set forward for her has come through so far, and we are very optimistic that she will continue. We can't take credit for Jody’s football development because she is a natural, we just assisted in the environment that we got her in, and then she took it from there with the goals that she set for herself,” he ended. 

     

  • Caymanas Golf Club all set to host 36th annual Caribbean Amateur Junior Golf Championship Caymanas Golf Club all set to host 36th annual Caribbean Amateur Junior Golf Championship

    The Caribbean region’s best young golfers are set to descend upon Jamaica’s Caymanas Golf Course soon to participate in the 36th staging of the Caribbean Amateur Junior Golf Championship.

    Teams will start arriving in Jamaica on July 1 with the competition set to take place from July 3-5 with the first tee time set at 7:00 AM local time.

    There will be eight competing countries and these include hosts Jamaica, defending champions Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

    Among these countries, there will be approximately 85 participants taking part in the championships split into the Boys and Girls 18 & Under, Boys & Girls 15 & Under and Boys & Girls 13 & Under categories.

    The official media launch for the junior golf showcase was held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on Thursday.

    “The hosting of this prestigious event represents not only a celebration of golf, but it also fulfils our mandate by providing a platform for our junior golfers to hone their skills in addition to being a testament to the spirit of sportsmanship, camaraderie and youthful exuberance that thrives in our Caribbean region,” said President of the Jamaica Golf Association, Jodi Munn-Barrow, at Thursday’s launch.

    Lead sponsors of the July 3-5 championships are BCIC Insurance Company Limited and their CEO, Peter Levy, expressed happiness to be a part of this competition.

    “It’s an opportunity for us to reaffirm BCIC’s commitment to youth development through our title sponsorship of this prestigious event,” he said.

    “BCIC has always believed in the power of sport to shape our society and we see this partnership as an investment in the dreams and aspirations of young golfers across the Caribbean,” he added.

    Also on hand to give a glimpse of what to expect from the course itself was Caymanas Golf Club General Manager, Peter Lindo.

    “Our picturesque little course in St. Catherine eagerly awaits the talented young golfers who will be representing their countries. Our course superintendent, Mr. Jerry Hardy, and out groundskeepers have been working meticulously preparing the course taking every measure possible to present optimal playing conditions,” he said.

    “We’ve had some unusually hot dry weather up until last week and that little spell of rain has given us an even greener landscape. One of the challenges we’ve had over the years is the deterioration of our bunkers and Jamaica Aggregates Limited were very kind in donating sand which will go a very long way in the resuscitation of the bunkers,” he added.

    Other main sponsors for the championship include Sandals Foundation, R&A, Fleetwood, ORCA Golf, Caribbean Golf Association, CMK Bakery and Digicel Business.

     

  • Reggae Boyz winger Gray ready to shine at Copa America on return from injury Reggae Boyz winger Gray ready to shine at Copa America on return from injury

    For Demarai Gray, the journey to recover from a broken collarbone in time for the Copa America has been a testament of resilience, passion, and an unwavering commitment to representing Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz.

    The England-born winger, who suffered the injury earlier this year, while representing Saudi Pro League club Al-Ettifaq, recently returned to fitness, and his joy and excitement about being back in Jamaica’s setup are palpable, as he prepares to parade his skills in one of the most prestigious tournaments in international football.

    “It's good to be back; I was disappointed that I missed the World Cup qualifiers, but I'm happy the boys got the six points. I am glad to be back with the boys and excited for this tournament,” Gray said in an interview with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) media.

    “It was a difficult end (to the season) with the injury, I had about six weeks out, but over the last few weeks, I've been working and trying to get as fit as possible for the Copa. So, we've got a few more days for me to build, and hopefully I can get off to a good start against Mexico,” he added.