By Gary Smith, World-Track
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Stephen Francis, the man in charged of several of Jamaica’s top athletes, including former 100 metres world record holder Asafa Powell and two world and Olympic individual champions, said he has no interest in replacing Glen Mills as head coach of the country’s national team.
Francis, who has had his share of disputes with the country’s governing body, the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association (JAAA), said he tends to be a little bias when it comes to those he coached and admitted that taking such a position would not be in the best interest of the other athletes.
“It would be very hypocritical if I were to accept a position as team coach of the Jamaican team,” Francis, who guided two Olympic champions and three world champions in the last two years, told the Jamaica Gleaner. “I believe that post is for someone with less personal interest.
“The truth of the matter is that I don’t have the best interest of the Jamaican team members at heart. What I do have is the best interest of the people that I coach at heart.
“I have in the past strongly believed that people who coach a number of athletes, especially non-Jamaicans in a private capacity, should not be accepting positions on a national programme primarily because, well for me, I am really interested in how the athletes who I coach perform.
“And if I coach an athlete from Trinidad or from Bahrain, I am going to want my athlete to beat any Jamaican that I do not coach as a result of the whole athlete-coach thing.”
By his own admission, Francis, who was a member of the Jamaican coaching staff at two Olympics and a world championships, acknowledged that he has already turned down several offers to be a regular member of the national coaching group.
“I have repeatedly in the past turned down offers and have told the JAAA that I will not be available for any such position because it’s not fair to the athletes who are a part of the team, it is not necessary,” he said. “But some people, for whatever reason, have felt that they need to continue doing it,” Francis stated.
“I don’t do it and I don’t see that changing in the future because as I said, I am going to want to see my individual athletes who I coach from whichever country beat whichever Jamaicans they are up against as long as I don’t coach them (Jamaican athlete),” he added.
Among the athletes coached by Francis are World and Olympic champions Shelly Ann Fraser and Melaine Walker, along with 100m hurdles world champion Brigitte Foster-Hylton and Olympic and World 400m silver medallist Shericka Williams.
Francis, meanwhile, withdrew from singling out any specific individuals to succeed Mills, but suggests that his replacement should be well thought out.
“I wouldn’t want to recommend anybody. These things (appointments) are not done by ability anyway. it’s about friendships and who is comfortable working with whom, and so forth,” he explained.
“At the end of the day, however, the selection process is carried out. I hope it is someone who would be an asset to the people who will represent Jamaica at these meets.”