9 years in the past, Danusia Francis thought her days in aggressive gymnastics had been over when she was named an alternate to the British Olympic staff, so shut but so removed from her objective. Because it seems, her aggressive days had been simply starting. Inspired to discover U.S. collegiate gymnastics, Francis turned a member of the UCLA Bruins and have become an NCAA Champion.
When the Olympic Video games open tomorrow in Tokyo, Francis, 27, shall be there as a member of the Jamaican Olympic staff. A number of years in the past, she opted to symbolize her father’s residence nation and has constructed a sequence of successes since then, together with qualifying for these Olympics based mostly on her placement on the 2019 World Championships.
Francis was a bit anxious earlier than touring to Tokyo, however stated she would calm down as quickly as she arrives within the Olympic village. “I’m excited,” she stated. “My objective has at all times been to take part. 2019 was me attaining the onerous half and now I get to have fun.”
The Olympic occasions will happen with out spectators. “I’m grateful it’s going forward,” stated Francis, who postponed her wedding ceremony, initially scheduled for spring 2021, to focus on coaching.
After residing in isolation for greater than a yr, Francis is trying ahead to seeing her Jamaican teammates. Whereas she is the lone gymnast, she has solid bonds with athletes from different sports activities. “There shall be this collective feeling of gratefulness, she stated. “There shall be much more camaraderie due to what we’ve all been via.”
The primary day of competitors for ladies’s inventive gymnastics is July 25. The highest 24 finishers get a spot within the all-around, however every nation can solely have two gymnasts, so Francis has a great probability of incomes a spot. In 2019, she made historical past on the Pan Am Video games, changing into the primary Jamaican gymnast to earn a spot in an equipment last, the steadiness beam, however stated that seemingly gained’t occur in Tokyo.
Francis supplied some perception into what we might even see in gymnastics. U.S. gymnast Simone Biles has dominated the game for a number of years and can seemingly accomplish that once more in Tokyo. “Folks, together with myself, need to see her create historical past as a result of…she is simply phenomenal,” stated Francis, who will be a part of Biles within the Gold Over America Tour this fall. “I feel the all-around, the vault and the ground are hers for the taking.
“She’s positively up there on beam, however the Chinese language have been unbelievable on beam,” she added. “The bars is her weaker occasion, however she’ll make the finals. The Russians, the Chinese language and Sunisa Lee from the USA are there. [Simone] might not medal, however it could be nice if she did to have a full set of medals.”