Leave bikes alone - Francis ... Coach issues warning after Mason's tragic death
Stephen Francis had a stern warning for athletes who insist on riding motorcycles yesterday following the death of his one-time star high jumper Germaine Mason, who was killed in East Kingston after an early-morning bike crash.
"It's too late to turn back time but I wish he (Mason) and a lot of other youngsters would understand the dangers of those motor bikes, that they are not professional riders and that it's very difficult to control them," said Francis, who knew Mason for over 20 years.
Francis' position is not a new one where the coach - athlete dynamic is concerned.
France 98' World Cup qualifying architect Rene Simoes had banned Reggae Boyz players from riding bikes during the campaign with Ian 'Pepe' Goodison, Walter Boyd and Onandi Lowe all given the stop order by the little Brazilian.
Mason, the national junior and senior record holder in the high jump and Olympic silver medallist from the London 2012 Games had just left a soca party in Downtown Kingston, where he was earlier seen partying with close friends Usain Bolt, Chris Martin, Ricardo Gardner, Ian Goodison and others, before meeting in an accident at around 4:20am, close to the Harbour View roundabout.
Dangers of riding
It's an end that does not sit well with Francis, who while expressing deep sadness at the 34 year-old's death, believes it should not go in vain and must be used as a lesson to other athletes about the dangers of riding motor cycles.
"I don't know if it will ever be a lesson fully learnt but I am hoping that at least a few people will take that lesson from all of this," Francis said.
"It is quite sad that he came back to Jamaica to have fun and the fun ended up costing him his life. What can one say? Life has to go on and there are things to do so while we grieve we still have to continue doing what we have to do."
"I don't know if there is anybody who experienced Germaine from that age in a close a situation as I did as his coach - the difficulties we had with him training when he just came to Wolmer's; his maturity, winning a medal at the Olympics, injuries which set him back badly - it's a lot of things, we went through a lot together," added Francis.
"He was one of the first persons who decided to take a risk and train in an event like the high jump in Jamaica. It was a field event and we didn't even have the technical expertise for that and he did quite well, but life goes on," said Francis.