Grange: Francis deserves a national honour

September 14, 2016
file Stephen Francis

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia 'Babsy' Grange said last night that a national honour for veteran MVP track and field coach Stephen Francis is long overdue.

Grange was speaking at the Norman Manley Airport last night where she greeted several members of the MVP Track Club who had travelled to Europe and the Diamond League circuit after the island's outstanding performances at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Francis and the athletes were given an official welcome home inside the Pineapple Lounge at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, last night.

According to Grange, Francis snubbed the government's move to give him a national award before, but he has to accept this time.

"He is more than deserving of it. It's overdue. He is a very humble man when he is not coaching, and so he has been offered a national honour more than once, and he decided on those occasions not to accept but I think he has decided to reconsider," Grange told STAR Sports.

The athletes who arrived last night include; double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson, Christania Williams, Olympic 400m bronze medallist Shericka Jackson, 4x400m relay silver medallist Stephenie Ann McPherson, Megan Simmonds and Julian Forte.

Several MVP athletes coached by Francis have won numerous gold medals at both the Olympic Games and at IAAF World Championships.

According to Grange, she expects Francis to accept a national honour this time.

"I think that at this stage he will accept, and I didn't intend to put him on the spot but I felt that it was necessary because he has done outstanding work as a coach and he is most deserving," the sports minister added.

She indicated that Francis' Racers Track Club counterpart Glen Mills had already accepted national honours.

"On behalf of the people of Jamaica I think Stephen Francis is most deserving and should accept that national honour.

"It's overdue, and so I don't think at this time he is even in a position to entertain the position of refusing," stressed Grange.

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