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Jamaica’s Francis Revels In Ancestry, Olympic Berth
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The December 2019 issue of International Gymnast magazine includes an in-depth interview with charismatic Jamaican gymnast Danusia Francis, who earned an individual berth to next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. Excerpts from the interview follow.

IG: You have a unique pedigree with a Polish mom and a Jamaican dad. How and where did your parents meet? And what kind of affinity do you have for your Polish roots?

DF: They met in the U.K. I am extremely proud of my roots. My grandparents on my mum's side are both refugees of World War II, and my great-grandmother is a survivor of Auschwitz. We celebrate Polish Christmas and I grew up eating some Polish foods. My name is actually Polish too, which surprises people who don’t know.

IG: What have you discovered about your ancestors’ experiences with slavery in Jamaica, and how has it impacted you?

DF: I visited Rose Hall (plantation) and Sam Sharpe Square (named for the Jamaican national hero, former slave and anti-slavery activist). I knew about slavery and what my ancestors experienced but I saw the Freedom Monument with the names of the heroes and heroines of the anti-slavery movement inscribed. These names are from the trial and punishment records, and my surname was amongst them multiple times. This made it all very real, and I am proud to know I had such strong ancestors who fought for their freedom. It definitely empowers me.

IG: Beside the fact that Usain Bolt was an amazing athlete, why is he your hero?

DF: His personality and charisma aren’t just an act. He is a true showman. Despite the obvious of being so fast, he also brought entertainment and fun to his sport.

IG: Between now and Tokyo, what revisions will you be making to your routines so you can optimize your performance there? DF: I am trying a new skill on bars so would love to get that. Other than that it’s pretty much small tweaks here and there and going for execution.

To read the full interview with Danusia Francis, subscribe to the print and/or digital editions of International Gymnast magazine by clicking here.

 

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