Jamaican gymnast Danusia Francis went forward with her Olympic performance on the uneven bars on July 25, 2021, despite having torn her left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Even with the injury, she managed to achieve the highest execution score of the day. The injury, which she suffered on July 23, caused her to withdraw from the balance beam, vault, and floor exercise competitions, but with a bandaged knee, she took to the lower of the uneven bars on Sunday and performed two toe-ons before doing a gentle dismount. Smiling throughout her performance, Francis said the moment was very special for her, “Not everything I dreamed of, but definitely a huge success for what I can manage.”
Francis, 27, has wanted to be an Olympian since she was six years old and watched the Sydney, Australia, staging of the Games in 2000. In 2012, she was an alternate for Great Britain, and while she earned a place on Jamaica’s 2016 Olympics team, someone else was chosen to represent the country. She persevered and qualified for the Tokyo games at the 2019 World Championships, knowing she would not be a medal contender, but dreaming of competing alongside the other Olympians; she wanted the Olympic experience.
She had hoped to be able to compete and do her entire bars routine as recently as the morning of the 25th, but her doctors convinced her she might do additional damage, so she decided against it. She was afraid she wouldn’t be a “real” Olympian if she did not do the whole routine, but after calling her family who reassured her that she was already an Olympian, she put on her leotard and wrapped her injured left knee. She heard star gymnast Simone Biles cheering for her as she approached the uneven bars. Francis noted that it was “amazing” to have the respect of her fellow gymnasts who had watched her confront her injury. “To hear from them, as well as all the people that love me, is enough, you know?”
She made her apologies to the judges after her performance. They did not appear to be offended in any way, but took 6.5 points away from her for various infractions and gave her a difficulty score of just 0.5. This put her in last place, but she achieved an execution score of 9.033, which was the highest of the day on any apparatus.
The COVID-19 restrictions in place for the Tokyo Olympics require Francis to leave the country within 48 hours. She said she bought out “half of the merchandise store” and is taking everything with her that she can, including her bedding, as souvenirs of the experience she had dreamed of for so long.
Francis expressed her thanks to all her supporters on social meda posting, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart to every single person who has shown me support. I cannot believe how much love has come my way. I’m truly overwhelmed! This is a dream come true for me to be an Olympian and to do it wearing the Jamaican flag on my leotard, even though I couldn’t do the gymnastics I wanted to. This is one of the proudest days of my life. “
Photo and Video Source – Danusia Francis Facebook