Claudia and Phyllis Francis – Queens’ track and field answer to that other sisterly-combo, Venus and Serena Williams – are fast becoming the busiest women in high school sports.
Phyllis participated in the 103rd Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden (MSG) on Friday, January 29. With sister Claudia cheering her on, Phyllis place third in the Women’s Elite 400-meter dash with a time of 55.82. The sisters didn’t get home until well after midnight, so one might expect them both to sleep in the next day.
Not these high school super athletes.
The next morning, both were awake at 6 a.m. and headed back to MSG to compete in the Colgate Women’s Games Finals. Throughout the Games, both sisters have routinely finished in the top spots of their respective competitions and the finals proved no different.
Claudia, a junior at Benjamin Cardozo High School, finished in first place in the 800-meters with a time of 2:12.42, and Phyllis, a senior at Catherine McAuley, grabbed second place in the high jump, clearing 5’6”. As a senior, this was Phyllis’ final turn at the Games, but Claudia, a junior, will be back.
“It’s bittersweet for Phyllis because this is a bit of an end of an era for her,” said their mother, Kim Francis. “We always look forward to the Colgate Games as winter practice for them, but also for the camaraderie that they find with the other competitors.”
Next up for the sisters are the Gibson Relays in Kingston, Jamaica, from February 26-28. Claudia was not able to compete in the Relays last year because of a dispute with her school, but now Kim believes her daughters are ready to bring their domination to the Jamaican islands.
“We’re coming back with a vengeance this year,” said Kim. “We’re going to have our red, white and blue uniforms and we’re going to be ready.”
Even with competition on the immediate horizon, the sisters are still looking toward their future. They have always dreamt of competing in the Olympic Games and, if they stay focused on their training, Kim thinks they could find themselves in London in 2012.
“You can’t just walk off the street and into the games, it takes years of training,” she said. “It’s the highest level of competition, but I think they have it in them. For now though, they need to focus on their grades and the competition they have in front of them.”