Danusia Francis, on the stress and strains of being a gymnast

Danusia Francis is a former British gymnast who now represents Jamaica in the sport.

Danusia has found lockdown an interesting experience for her.

“Lockdown as a whole has had it’s pros and cons. Usually I live closer to where I train so I have been able to live with my fiancé. Training side of things has been very difficult but our coaches have done a good job of Zoom training. We have done that five days a week and I feel in good shape.”

“Another silver lining is some small aches and pain I’ve had I have been able to get those stronger. I am looking forward to getting back into training pain free and a lot stronger. I can’t wait to get back to Heathrow gymnastic club where I train.”

From Britain to Jamaica

She started of in the sport representing GB but soon decided to compete for a different country.

“I have dual citizenship. My dads’ side of the family is Jamaican. I competed for Great Britain until I was 19. I was in America on a gymnastics scholarship and the style of gymnastics there really reworked my passion for the sport.

“GB have got competitive over the years and I would have to come back to the UK to do trials. That was not feasible for me while living in LA so I looked into the idea for competing for Jamaica.

“I have always been a huge Usain Bolt fan so while I was able to make this a reality, I went for it. Gymnastics is a fairly new sport there so each time we step out we are inspiring lots of young gymnasts.”

When the news of no Olympics for this year came through initially she was disappointed.

“Initial reaction was upset with all this hard work. Nobody knew at the start it was going to be rescheduled. When we got the news through it got my focus to readjust my training plan.

A family loss to Covid-19

Danusia unfortunately has lost a loved one due to Covid-19.

“It’s been a really hard time and it is easy to forget with lockdown easing; it is still out there. It is still going to be a traumatic experience if you get it.”

Danusia also feels despite a family loss to Covid-19 she is happy to continue training.

“I feel safe to go back to training. Our gym has worked really hard. They have cleaned the gym from top to bottom. I trust them to do their best as they have put everything in place.”

Allegations about the sport and coaches

There has been a lot in the media about allegations of physical and mental abuse from British Gymnastic coaches.

“I have got a lot of friends as adults now who are suffering from symptoms like anxiety. It all relates back to their time as a gymnast. They suffered daily abuse, whether it was name calling or physical pinching. A lot of it was to do with weight and getting weighed daily and getting into trouble with their coach.”

“I can say I am a very lucky gymnast in that my experiences at my club and college were very positive. I was always supported as a person before an athlete. When I look back on my negative experiences in the sport it all had to do with GB squads and camps.”

“ I felt more comfortable to eat more food with my own coaches in the room than squad coaches. It was other people’s coaches who made me feel on edge. I can’t imagine training with these people day in and out.”

“The experiences that I have had is the right one and that is what I want to advocate for. You can still get results and achieve your dreams with a healthy approach”

“I want to help make these changes that need to come from right at the top of British gymnastics. I think if it had been handled when complaints where coming in it wouldn’t have to blow up in this way.

These people that have let these complaints go by the wayside; they are the ones that need to be gone. Starting with the CEO and the ones right at the top.”

Full interview with Danusia Francis

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