Mark Lewis-Francis pledges to kick on after seeing lottery funding restored
Mark Lewis-Francis is confident he can continue his impressive improvement on the track after being restored to full lottery funding a year after he was axed by UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee.
By Simon Hart
Published: 7:12PM GMT 01 Nov 2010
The 28 year-old, who had contemplated retirement after Achilles’ tendon injuries forced him out of the sport for 18 months in 2008 and 2009, has been rewarded for his 100 metres silver medals at the European Championships in Barcelona in July and the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi last month.
Fellow sprinter Christian Malcolm, who won European silver and Commonwealth bronze in the 200m, has also been reinstated to the elite programme after he, too, lost all financial support a year ago due to injury and loss of form.
“I’ve worked very hard this year and I’m over the moon with the news,” said Lewis-Francis, who, under the guidance of Linford Christie, produced his fastest time in five years when he ran 10.15sec in his first-round heat in New Delhi.
"This is going to make my athletics a lot easier. It means I can get my head now and work harder for next year and hopefully carry on improving.
"The determination is still there. I’m enjoying my athletics again and I’m with a great
coach. I’m in a good place right now and I’m grateful that UK Athletics has got the belief in me to put me back on funding. Now I can move on and hopefully put the past behind me.
“I’m also very happy for Christian. He’s been through the same as me. I’ve just glad that people have got belief in us again.”
The duo are among four athletes who have been returned to the top tier, or ‘podium’ level, of Lottery support, having previously been cast adrift. Also back in the elite fold are Leon Baptiste, the 200m gold medallist in New Delhi, and Chris Thompson, runner-up behind Mo Farah in the 5,000m in Barcelona.
[b]But Monday’s announcement of the list of funded athletes for 2011 included several omissions – among them British women’s 100m record-holder Montell Douglas and fellow sprinters Emma Ania and Laura Turner.
Douglas and Turner were part of the British women’s 4x100m quartet whom Van Commenee castigated for their “unacceptable schoolgirl mistakes” when they crashed out of the heats at the European Championships. [/b]
Other athletes who will miss out on funding next year include distance runner Jo Pavey, who has struggled with injury since returning from the birth of her first child, 400m runner Vicky Barr, long jumper Jade Johnson and triple jumper Larry Achike.
Kelly Sotherton, the 2004 Olympic heptathlon bronze medallist who missed the whole of this season with a back injury, may well have competed in her last multi-events competition after being switched to “podium relay” funding to concentrate on making the 4x400m team for next year’s World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.