Sensational Elaine Thompson keeps rising and rising

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer senior reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

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AFTER announcing herself to the world with two magnificent 100m wins, Elaine Thompson's head coach at the University of Technology (UTech), Paul Francis, believes the rising star of women's sprinting hard work is reaping success.


"It is a thrill to see how she developed. This is not a flash in the pan scenario," said Francis, who is also her assistant coach under the guidance of his brother, Stephen Francis, the MVP head honcho.


"She is with the best coach available in the conditioning and developing of athletes, Stephen Francis. She is bright and brilliant and she applies that dedication to his training," Paul Francis told the Jamaica Observer.


Thompson, 22, captured the Intercollegiate 100m crown in a record 11.09 seconds running into a negative head wind of -1.1 on April 1. Then 11 days later, she returned and won the UTech Classic in a world-leading 10.92 seconds.


It is the seventh best performance by a Jamaican woman and has made her the 11th Jamaican woman to dip below the 11-second barrier behind the likes of Merlene Ottey, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Kerron Stewart and Sherone Simpson.


If anyone had doubts about Thompson's 10.92 clocking, these were quickly laid to rest when she easily defeated a world-class field at the Jamaica International Invitational Meet clocking 10.97 seconds. That field included Commonwealth Games champion Blessing Okagare of Nigeria, Allyson Felix of USA and Jamaican Olympic silver medallist Kerron Stewart.


"I think the only sign of nerves that actually showed in that race was that she didn't execute her start too well," Francis pointed out.


"But everything else was akin to someone who has been around for years. She went through without any over-striding and all the things that usually point to panic. She just ran her race and was successful," he noted.


"It will only be natural for any human being finding themselves competing well against persons who are icons in the sport to be more confident.


"But lest we forget, Elaine trains with the best in our sport at this time, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, so I don't think she would have been overawed per se by the Okabares, the Allyson Felixes and the Tarmoahs," he added.


Francis, who said he first spotted Thompson as a Class Three athlete running 25 seconds for the 200m, recruited her for UTech despite her not making a significant mark at Champs.


"Elaine's biggest achievement at high school championship was when she came fourth in 2009 in Class Two 100m running for Manchester High in 12.01 seconds. The winner was Diandra Whitehorne from Vere, who ran 11.52 seconds," Francis revealed.


He continued: "She competed in the 4x100 in Class One and her second year in Class One, she got booted off the track team because she is kind of saucy. So she didn't run in her final year in 2011."


"In her first year in 2012 she ran 11.80 something and like most youngsters from high school, she had a lot of injuries which were not properly treated," Francis explained.


"The following year 2013, she came down to 11.41 seconds. The third year she came down to 11.19 and this year so far, she is at 10.92," said Paul.


"It's a natural progression from somebody who has an excellent work ethic. She works hard and has so far stayed grounded as a student and an athlete. She is still saucy but getting there. Sometimes she is misunderstood because she has a very sharp tongue," he explained.


A for her plans for the rest of the season, Paul explained that's really up to Stephen Francis. "There is only one don in MVP all of us are a part of the support group with varying functions."


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