Gymnast Danusia Francis Praised for Braving Olympic Event Despite Knee Injury

Danusia Francis' smile said it all. The gymnast's Tokyo Olympics was over; it had lasted less than 10 seconds and she was to finish last in the qualifying round.

Each second, however, had been more heroic than the last.

The British-born Jamaican athlete and UCLA graduate braved the uneven bars despite suffering a heartbreaking, no-doubt excruciating, knee injury—possibly a torn ACL—shortly before her games got underway on Sunday.

Despite the pain, the 27-year-old was determined to take part.

She had waited a long time to become an Olympian, nine years since being an unused backup for Team GB at the 2012 Games in London.

"Just competing bars due to my knee injury," she had written on Instagram before her appearance. "But can't wait to get out there!!"

Her knee heavily strapped, she took to the uneven bars and performed two relatively simple toe-ons, then dismounted gently onto her uninjured right leg.

As she hobbled off, Francis was beaming. She had finally become an Olympian.

Judges rated her degree of difficulty a low 0.5, yet she was awarded a 9.033 for execution. After losing 6.5 points in penalties, Francis finished with a 3.033 score.

Simone Biles joined seven others in qualifying for the uneven bars final, as well as each of the other four individual finals.

I love Danusia Francis' attitude.

On the slow replay, you can see the pain she's in with that ACL injury. Wise decision on her part here. She has much to be proud of, and she clearly is. What a great smile.

— Alheli Picazo (@a_picazo) July 25, 2021

Francis had been a reserve for Great Britain in the 2012 Games in London, but did not get to compete. She later attended UCLA and became a co-national champion on the balance beam in 2016.

After being offered a chance to represent Jamaica, where she has family ties, she became the second female gymnast to reach the Olympics.

Francis' former Great Britain teammates were in awe. "I'm so so proud of you," tweeted Hannah Whelan, who competed at the 2008 and 2012 games, using the #olympian hashtag.

Becky Downie, a double European champion who competed for Great Britain at the 2008 and 2016 Games, said she was: "So proud."

Meanwhile, Helene Elliott, a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times, said Francis' determination had been "inspiring."

"She realized her dream of being an Olympian and she kept that uppermost in her mind," the journalist wrote on Twitter.

Sharing a clip of Francis on the beams, writer Alheli Picazo tweeted: "On the slow replay, you can see the pain she's in with that ACL injury. Wise decision on her part here.

"She has much to be proud of, and she clearly is. What a great smile."

Francis later thanked those who congratulated her on the achievement of becoming an Olympian, adding: "At last."

Danusia Francis smiles during Olympic training.
Danusia Francis of Team Jamaica smiles during Women's Podium Training ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on July 22, 2021. Despite injury, Francis still performed on the uneven bars. Patrick Smith/Getty Images