After a year of competing in the United States, rising sophomore gymnast Danusia Francis represented her home country, the United Kingdom, last week at the 2013 World University Games in Kazan, Russia.
Francis was not only the sole British gymnast to qualify for the floor final, but her sixth-place finish – and an execution score which tied for first – helped the British national team finish sixth overall.
“I’m glad that (the British team) still (has) that same trust that they had before I left,” Francis said. “It’s just nice to know that they still want me on their team.”
But now that the World University Games are over, Francis is back to being a Bruin – and one that’s inspiring the rest of her teammates to work through the summer.
“To see her potential and her work ethic when we were supposed to be in preseason was just tremendous,” said rising senior Samantha Peszek.
“After our season, it’s typically a rest period but she was still in the gym every day training for these routines, even putting together harder ones.”
Francis’s work ethic and summer training led other UCLA teammates to keep up their training throughout the offseason in a pursuit to win the national championship that eluded them in 2013, said coach Valorie Kondos Field.
“This summer, more so than in recent years, more athletes have chosen to stay here and train over the summer,” Kondos Field said. “Danusia (competing at the World University Games) just kept their fire fueled.”
This team-based approach to gymnastics, prominent in the NCAA but not as much in British competitions, was new for Francis when she first came to UCLA. One year later, at the World University Games, her transformation into a teammate was apparent.
“When I’m training at UCLA, I look at all the others and I can take inspiration from most of them,” she said. “Going into (the British national team), if I didn’t know a girl, I still wanted her to do so well and I had that team spirit that I brought back from UCLA.”
Already a supportive teammate on the UCLA team, Kondos Field said she expects Francis to grow into even more of a leader than she was during her freshman season because of both her talent in gymnastics and her personality.
“Danusia is wise beyond her years. People want to be around her,” Kondos Field said. “People are attracted to Danusia because of her maturity and her calm, and those are tremendous leadership qualities to have – especially with a group of 16 girls.”