Jamaica’s Olympic gymnast Danusia Francis has announced her retirement from international competition while expressing gratitude for the love and support she received while representing the country.

Francis, 28, represented Jamaica at the Tokyo Olympics. She was due to compete in the women's individual all-around event but two days prior to the competition, she discovered she had torn her anterior cruciate ligament.

 She subsequently withdrew from the balance beam, the vault and the floor exercise but chose to continue to compete in the uneven bars with her knee bandaged, scoring the lowest of any competitor as the judges deducted 6.5 points for various infractions and gave her only a 0.5 difficulty score. However, her 9.033 execution score was the highest for any athlete on uneven bars.

Less than a year later, she decided that it was time to call it a day from the sport she loves.

“I am announcing my official retirement from gymnastics. I am so grateful and thankful for all the opportunities, I’ve had in this sport, to be a Jamaican Olympian is an absolute dream come true. I want to give a massive thank you to Jamaica Gymnastics and the JOA (Jamaica Olympic Association) for believing in me, funding me and for the opportunity to represent on the biggest stage,” she said in a statement Sunday.

“I will treasure the memories forever.”

Notwithstanding her retirement, Francis, who also represented UCLA in NCAA gymnastics, said she plans to remain involved with the sport in her adopted country.

“I would love to always be a part of the sport in Jamaica, help it improve and grow,” she said. “Anytime I am in Jamaica, I am definitely coming to the gym, do some coaching and I will always be on the other side of the phone for advice, for whatever it might be and however I can help.

“So, thanks again to everybody and thanks again to the amazing Jamaican fans. You have supported me and shown me so much love and embraced me and for that, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”

Francis said she plans to continue in the sport as a host and presenter.

President of the JGA Nicole Grant said Francis has done much for Jamaican gymnastics in a very short time.

It is truly an honour to have had Danusia Francis as part of the Jamaica gymnastics team. She has helped to grow the sport in so many ways. Competing for Jamaica at so many important gymnastics meets, putting us out there and showing the world that Jamaica does have the ability to be great in the sport," Grant said.

"Being the first female gymnast to qualify Jamaica for the Olympic test event in 2016 opened doors for us and she played her part in enabling our berth to the 2016 Olympics. She showed so much determination to keep going for Jamaica, especially after her disappointment with not being chosen for the Olympic test event in 2016 and the 2018 Commonwealth Games, her drive demonstrated her full commitment to Jamaica as she had choices. Her love for Jamaica shone brightly and that love was returned 100 times more.

"Her retirement from competitions, for us only means that she will have more time to help develop the sport locally through coaching and consultation. We wish her good luck and God's richest blessings on her future journey."

 

 

 

A bitter-sounding Omar McLeod said he is heartbroken after not being given an opportunity to defend his Olympic title in Tokyo later this month and has described as absurd, the Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association’s (JAAA) decision to exclude from the country’s Olympic team.

The 27-year-old McLeod was speaking today at a press conference on the eve of the Gateshead Diamond League meeting on Tuesday.

The 2016 Olympic champion hit the first hurdle at his country’s national championships on Sunday, June 27 and finished eighth. He complained afterwards that he had suffered a cramp after being forced to run the finals on Sunday morning having won his semi-final on the night before in 13.04 his second-fastest time this season.

Ronald Levy, who was second in McLeod’s semi-final in a season-best 13.08, won the final in 13.10 ahead of Damion Thomas (13.11) and Hansle Parchment (13.16), all top 10 times in the world. However, the national record holder felt he should have been considered for selection, despite the competition rules which state that the first three places will be selected.

Asked about his situation, McLeod held nothing back.

“I am very heartbroken, honestly. I don’t think I was given or granted a fair opportunity to make the team with this ridiculous schedule that I have never seen in my years in track and field where they have semi-finals late in the evening and then, without recovery and the country was in complete lockdown so we were unable to go back to the hotel and get food,” he lamented, his voice near the point of breaking.

“So, my team and I, we did the best we could and we went to a little lounge at the hotel and drank some soup and had a salad because that was all they had, trying to go back to the track and five in the morning for a final at eight, I mean, that’s stupid.

“For an event that has your reigning Olympic champion, you don’t treat the event like that. Give me a fair opportunity like everybody else to come and make the team. I didn’t have the audacity to not show up at the trials thinking I was obligated to make the team. I went there ready to compete and earn my spot.”

He said on the morning of the race he suffered a severe cramp and thought that his country would have ‘had my back."

“We did a medical exemption. It’s been done for Usain Bolt and other athletes before where they couldn’t run in the final or something happened. I was in the same position where I won all the major gold medals and historic moments where I was the first Jamaican to win (110mh) gold medals in every championship so I thought I was going to be okay.”

McLeod said his team exhausted every possible avenue of appeal including sending emails and meeting with the members of the selection committee. He also put out a statement on social media explaining what happened prior to the race.

The distraught sprint hurdler, who said he was denied the chance to run ‘something ridiculous’ at the trials, perhaps a national or world record, suggested he doesn’t know what he will do at the meet on Tuesday as he will be running on pure emotion waiting for the season to end.

“To be denied the opportunity is really absurd,” he said.

 

 

 

 

Cricketer turned commentator Michael Holding believes British society and its media are all talk and little action when it comes to championing equal rights for all, more specifically the Black Lives Matter movement.

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