Artistic gymnast Danusia Francis will be among four Jamaicans competing for a place at the podium at this year’s Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, this summer as the country marks its debut in the sport.
Francis, in an interview with Jamaica Today said that, she’s excited by the seemingly limitless possibilities for the sport locally and on the global stage. She is buoyed by the overwhelmingly positive reactions from her Superstars of Gymnastics performance on Saturday, March 23 in London.
“I am feeling really positive; we have all the talent. It is now just a matter of getting the funding and facilities to push us to that next step,” Francis said.
“I would like to say a massive thank you to everybody for the support. It has motivated me and helped to show the world what Jamaican gymnastics is made of. I can’t wait to see the sport develop more and more,” she added.
Breaking into the top 30 women’s rankings, the 25-year-old Francis told Jamaica Today that being a gymnast has been her greatest passion from age five. Her next steps are to keep up the good work and train harder for the PanAm Games this summer.
Read Danusia’s interview with Jamaica Today reporter Gavin Riley in full below:
GR: How are you feeling after the many positive reactions from Jamaicans after Superstars of Gymnastics? Has it taken you by surprise?
DF: “I am feeling overjoyed! I am surprised, because the Superstars of Gymnastics was the first event of this kind and the first time Matchroom Sports has put this event on, so first of all I was honoured to be invited, but had no particular expectations of the event. So for so many people in Jamaica to see my videos and show their support has been amazing!”
GR: Living in the United Kingdom, was it always your dream to represent Jamaica? When did you take that first step?
DF: “I used to compete for Great Britain, then when I was on a gymnastics scholarship in the States at UCLA, I decided I wanted to compete internationally again, this wasn’t possible for GB as I couldn’t compete in all the competitions or attend the national squads required to stay on their team whilst living in Los Angeles. So I decided to explore my options, I am half Polish and half Jamaican, so I had a couple of options but I have idolized Usain Bolt my whole life so when I found out it was possible for me to represent Jamaica and be on Usain’s team, I had to take the opportunity! Knowing that [there] wasn’t funding available and that Jamaica was fairly new to the sport of gymnastics I felt that I could also help to push the sport forwards in Jamaica for future generations and hopefully be a role model, as I know that we have a huge amount of talent.”
GR: Has gymnastics always been your greatest passion?
DF: “Yes, since I was five years old I have always loved the sport and felt so lucky to be able to do it on an international and collegiate level.”
GR: Back to your performance some three weeks ago, the clips we have seen note the use of Dancehall and Reggae in your routines. How long did it take you to choreograph the routine? Who’s your favorite artiste(s)?
DF: “These videos with Dancehall and Reggae have been edited by fans of the videos and to see these edits and know that somebody took the time to add music in the background is so cool! I love how the videos look with these tracks playing! It was @SparkieBaby who made one of the edits so I have become a fan since then! I also got to see Ziggy Marley perform at UCLA while I was a student there which was amazing!”
GR: How do you feel about the future of gymnastics in Jamaica?
DF: “I am feeling really positive, we have all the talent it is now just a matter of getting the funding and facilities to push us to that next step.”
GR: With that stellar performance, now that you’ve broken into the top 30 gymnasts in the world, what’s next for you, Danusia?
DF: “Next is to keep up the good work and train hard for the Pan American Games this summer and then the World Championships which is also an Olympic qualifier in October.”
GR: Is it true that you will be representing Jamaica at this summer’s World Championships and Pan American Games?
DF: “Yes, definitely the Pan American Games. We haven’t been officially selected for the World Championships yet but I hope to be there representing!”
GR: What is your message for young Jamaican girls and boys, who’ve now seen you enchant the world and aspire to follow your footsteps?
DF: “Always be yourself, in those performances I really embraced my own personality and it paid off! Work hard for your dreams, overcoming obstacles is a part of the journey and my main message would be that Jamaican gymnastics is just getting started and you young girls and boys are the future!”
GR: And finally, any other comment(s) you’d like to make?
DF: “I would like to say a massive thank you to everybody for the support it has motivated me and helped to show the world what Jamaican gymnastics is made of. I can’t wait to see the sport develop more and more.”