JAVON Francis, the 18-year-old mile relay anchor runner whose heroics on the track at the just-concluded 14th IAAF World Athletics Championships in Moscow, Russia, says despite having a bright future in the sport he will remain focused on his education.
Francis will enter fifth form at Calabar High when the new school year begins next month.
"I will try to stay in school and focus on my education, because if track and field fails me then I will have something to rock back on. I know many athletes who have their degrees, so I will try to follow in their footsteps," Francis told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
The teen was one of four Jamaican athletes who returned home yesterday and who were briefly feted inside the VIP lounge at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.
He cited the example of Grenadian 400-metre sensation Kirani James, who competes on the international track circuit while pursuing tertiary education.
"He shows that one can study and still take the track. I realise the importance of getting a good education," Francis said.
"I give God thanks that I won a medal to show my mom and dad. I am young still, but I am going to train hard to get the 400 gold medal," he added.
Francis said he felt no pressure when he was given the job of anchoring the team and the desire to stand on the medal podium was his main driving force.
"I love the cheer of the crowd, and I am used to it from the Penn Relays and Champs. I had to get a medal, so I listened to my coach and timed my run on the backstretch. I wanted to catch the leaders, but the USA was gone. I held my form in the final stages and leaned for the tape. There was no pressure, just the will to win a medal," he said.
Francis showed glimpses of his track and field prowess when he qualified for the World Championships after placing second in a time of 45.24 at the Jamaican trials inside the National Stadium.
He was also named the Penn Relays High School Boy Athlete for Relay Events after an amazing 44.9 seconds anchor leg to secure his team's win of the Championships of Americas 4x400m relays at this year's edition of the meet.
The other athletes who returned home with Francis were quarter-miler Anastasia Leroy, shot putter Raymond Brown, and gold medal sprint relay winner Oshane Bailey.
The athletes were accompanied home by an official delegation which included Sports Minister Natalie Neita-Headley, team leader Trevor 'TC' Campbell; technical leader Maurice Wilson; assistant manager Deon Hemmings-McCatty, and team doctor Derrick McDowell.