Coaching milestone for Stephen Francis

August 23, 2016
file Stephen Francis

Elaine Thompson moved to the forefront of women's sprinting with her gold medals in the just concluded Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. When she crossed the line first in the 100 metres in Rio, her victory vaulted coach Stephen Francis into an exclusive club. Her performance made Francis just the third man to coach three successive gold medal runs in the women's 100 metres.

It first occurred in 1960, 1964 and 1968 when sprinters coached by Ed Temple won the 100m for the United States of America. The first triumph was part of a 100/200/4x100 sprint triple by Wilma Rudolph at the Rome Olympics. That was followed by back-to-back 100 metre wins by Wyomia Tyus. Rudolph and Tyus were student-athletes under Temple's care at Tennessee State University.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, coached by Francis for a decade, joined Tyus and Gail Devers with back to back 100m victories of her own in 2008 and 2012 and Thompson gave Francis a record equalling hat-trick in Rio.

HAIR-SPLITTING WINS

Noted American coach Bobby Kersee coached Devers to hair-splitting wins in 1992 and 1996. In 1992, Devers barely held off Jamaica's Juliet Cuthbert. Four years later, Merlene Ottey surged to within millimetres of Devers who became the second woman to win the Olympic 100m twice.

Fraser-Pryce and Thompson have come through the track and field programme at the MVP Track Club where Francis is the head coach. With his coaching advice, Fraser-Pryce has also won an unprecedented trio of World Championship 100m titles. She and Thompson share the Jamaican 100m record at 10.70 seconds, which was set by Fraser Pryce in 2012. Thompson matched it at this year's National Senior Championships.

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