A Man I Know Who Followed His Heart


He had his light and phone cut off. He lived out of his car for a while. He was ashamed to tell others how little money he had. He told his clients to find someone else, and they refused. Everyone who knew him told him was crazy, and that he should cash in on his MBA.

Today he is the coach of the fastest man in the world — the holder of the record for the 100m dash, Asafa Powell.

The man behind it all its Stephen Francis, known to Wolmerians who went to school with him as “Clagga” (or was that “Clappa”?)

His personal story of sacrifice and achievement is a dramatic one, as the events I mentioned above all happened in the space of 4 short years, according to the story told in the Gleaner entitled: Creating World Champions.

I remember him well as a rather disheveled, bright guy who was a member of the Schools Challenge Quiz Team from the year he was in fourth form, and I was in first form. He was not athletic, and did not take part in sports, but like anyone who was on the Schools Challenge team he was able to study, and retain a tremendous amount of information.

He eventually got a degree in Accounting, and then an MBA, and somewhere along the line he decided that he was interested in something new: Track and Field. I remember hearing the news that he was coaching Wolmers Track Team — it seemed like madness to me, as Francis was a brains, not an athlete!

After his MBA, he got the kind of job you could easily retire from — a consulting position at Peat Marwick. I am sure his parents were proud. I imagined that they relaxed, knowing that he had “set himself up.”

I can only imagine what they thought and said when he quit that job to follow his dream of training athletes…

The article is fascinating. In a way I should not be surprised as he has a combined background that can only be a powerful asset to his athletes — after all, not many track coaches have MBA’ s from top schools like the University of Michigan.

And there are not too many that have coached the fastest human being on the planet. In fact, there is only one.