UVic track champ seeks support for upcoming Glasgow Games

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May 27, 2014, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Three-time CIS 600-metre champion, Rachel Francois, campaigns for support online in the lead up to Glasgow.

By Lachlan Ross

After another dominant season on the indoor track, the University of Victoria’s Rachel Francois races towards July’s Commonwealth Games.

In April, the 21-year-old became UVic’s first track athlete to win gold in their event at the Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) National Championship three years straight.

What makes Francois’ third 600-metre title especially impressive is she still has another two years of CIS eligibility.

But as she strives to shift lanes onto the outdoor international circuit this summer, running the 800-metres, Francois is seeking support from friends and fans online.

Through the crowdfunding website, Indiegogo, the middle-distance runner hopes to raise $8,000 by July 12 to aid her training and travel costs.

Like most people, Francois maintains motivation through setting goals. What separates hers from many others is the level of detail.

Her short-term goals include daily tasks like having a good workout or downing two-litres of water by lunchtime. She views each practice, university meet, or international race as part of the lead up to her long-term goal – the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

“I think the best kind of goals are the lofty ones,” she says in her Indiegogo video, filmed by friend and fellow UVic student, Scott Secco. “You have to push yourself beyond your comfort zone to get what you want.”

To qualify for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, Francois needs to meet a minimum “B standard” race time of 2:01.50.

Coming into this outdoor season, her 800-metre personal best was 2:03.47, set last August in Belgium.

But last week at an American Track League meet in Austin, Texas, Francois finished fourth with a time of 2:02.18, smashing her personal best by over a second.

“I know there’s more there,” she says. “I’m looking to run that B standard… but running 2.02 opens so many more doors and puts me that much closer to meeting my goals.”

As her time improves, Francois is invited to more meets and gains greater consideration for sponsorship and government funding.

In 2012, she became a “carded” runner with Sport Canada’s Athlete Assistance Program – meaning she could focus on training and didn’t have to work. That season, she ran for Canada and brought home a bronze medal from the 2012 Under-23 North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Championship.

When Francois suffered a stress fracture in her tibia leading up to the 2013 outdoor season, she was unable to recover form in time to be selected to race for Canada.

Because the Athlete Assistance Program only cards athletes on one-year contracts, it places immense pressure to perform each season. With a season that didn’t meet Francois or Sport Canada’s expectations, she didn’t receive a new contract.

In an attempt to gain funding, Francois now turns to the public for help.

Attending meets like the one in Austin propels Francois to bigger events like Glasgow and hopefully, in two years time – Rio.

As with all high-level athletes, success for an elite runner involves more than just time on the track.

“For me, recovery is a huge part of training well,” she says. Crowdfunding the money required to attend races and maintain an athlete’s diet means Francois can place all her energy towards trying to qualify for the Games.

After 13 days of the “Rachel Francois’ Road to Rio” Indiegogo campaign, she has raised $1,205.

As Francois strives on the track to secure a spot for Glasgow, people’s support off the track helps create opportunities needed to reach that final time.

Every dollar donated aids each millisecond shaved off the stopwatch as Francois pushes for 2:01.50 and the Commonwealth Games.

 

 

A link to the Indiegogo campaign can be found here:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/rachel-francois-road-to-rio

And to keep up with her adventures and progress, Francois’ blog can be found here:

http://francoisruns.wordpress.com/

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