Olympic Newbies: Danusia Francis shakes off years of heartbreak to realise lifelong dreamSaturday, July 24, 2021
By Daniel Blake
Gymnast Danusia Francis was a stunt woman in the critically acclaimed movie, Wonder Woman 1984. Now, she is planning on putting on a heroic effort at the Tokyo Games.
The 27-year-old qualified for the Olympics in 2019, joining 2016 representative Toni-Ann Williams as the only two Jamaicans to ever qualify for gymnastics at the Games.
However, it was revealed on Friday that she tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which left her dejected.
She told the media, “I'm really upset to have hurt myself. I have been so prepared for this competition mentally and physically up to this point so to, at the last hurdle, be injured is disappointing.”
The ACL injury, however, will not stop her from competing and fulfilling her lifelong goal. She will not take part in the women's vault, balance beam or floor exercises, but she will attempt the uneven bars.
“I hope to do some sort of bar routine just to get a score on the board but without a dismount, it won't be a competitive score, but I'll be happy to see Jamaica represented at the Olympic Games and I still feel very proud to be wearing the Jamaican flag.”
It's understandable why England-born Francis will compete injured as she has been left disappointed in previous years, chasing her Olympic dream.
At age 18, she was an unused alternate for Great Britain in London 2012 and four years later for Rio, she was snubbed by the Jamaican selectors, despite achieving the qualifying standard.
Those decisions almost forced her to give up.
“I kind of shut the door on my Olympic dream, because growing up it was 2012 or nothing,” she said. “So 2016 when I had this second chance and then again it was out of my control, down to selectors. It was just heartbreaking again.”
However, she pressed on and a rule change in 2019 by the International Gymnastics Federation meant her dreams could become a reality.
“For 2019 qualifications, they changed the rule. If you qualified, your country can't switch who gets to go so that was a good rule change for me and I knew if I did my best and performed well enough then it was me that was going to go,” she said.
“It was all down to me and I didn't have to put it in the hands of selectors and I made it happen!”
Francis may not expect a big score when she competes in the uneven bars event but she knows she has the support of Jamaicans worldwide.
She said, “Jamaican fans have that charisma that I wanted when I joined Team Jamaica and it's second to none. I've already seen so many comments that say we're already proud of you and that's definitely unique.”
“Jamaicans understand that the Olympic level is not an easy level to get to so for them to show they're proud of me already definitely eases the pressure and makes me want to do even better.”
Francis says she hopes Jamaica can one day become medal contenders in gymnastics, adding to the legacy set by herself and Toni-Ann Williams.
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