Why last place in the uneven bars still means the world to Olympian Danusia Francis

·Columnist
·2-min read

TOKYO — Danusia Francis had always dreamed of being an Olympian.

The English-born gymnast had been a reserve for Great Britain in the 2012 Games in London, but never got the chance to compete. She then attended UCLA, where in 2016 she was a co-national champion on balance beam.

The Olympics still hung out there, though, as the ultimate goal.

When the opportunity presented itself to compete for Jamaica, where she has family ties, here at the 2020 Tokyo Games, she took it. At age 27, she qualified to be here, only the second Jamaican female to ever reach the Games.

In the run-up to the Olympics, however, she injured her knee. Undeterred, she arrived and took part in podium training late last week before revealing that her left knee was significantly injured, possibly a torn ACL. There was no way she could perform as she hoped.

“Unfortunately, I do have a knee injury,” Francis wrote on Instagram.

Rather than just quit, Francis showed up for qualifying here Sunday and decided that if nothing else, she was going to compete in these Olympics.

“Despite the setback, I am only too proud to represent Jamaica,” Francis said.

Danusia Francis couldn't compete at her best on an injured knee. But she still competed at the Olympics, which means the world to her. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Danusia Francis couldn't compete at her best on an injured knee. But she still competed at the Olympics, which means the world to her. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

With her left knee heavily wrapped, she took to the uneven bars, where she performed two simple toe-ons before softly dismounting onto her right leg.

That was it. Her entire routine took less than 10 seconds. She hobbled off with her head high and her face beaming.

The judges clearly appreciated the effort. While her degree of difficulty was a comically low 0.5, she was awarded a 9.033 for execution, although they were forced to deduct 6.5 points in various penalties.

In the end, Danusia Francis finished with a score of 3.033.

It was good for last place — by a lot. Only three other gymnasts finished with a score below 10 on bars. American Sunisa Lee scored a 15.200.

But do you know what you call the person who came in last at the Olympics?

An Olympian.

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