St. Louis rower helps U.S. team place fifth in World Championships
The St. Louis Rowing Club’s B.J. Francis treasures his experience as the lone local athlete to make the USA junior rowing team.
The Ladue senior competed in Bulgaria and the USA squad finished fifth in the World in the “A” final.
Francis competed in the seven seat in the men’s eight for the U.S. National Juniors Team in the 2012 World Rowing Junior Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
“The selection for the latter involved about two months of intense training in Kent, Conn., and Princeton, N.J.,” Francis said. “Basically, the purpose was to weed out the weak. Lucky for me, I wasn’t one of them. Hundreds tried out and 36 got in, and 18 survived selection camp.
“It was a fantasy experience and I was overjoyed when the head coach told us as a group, ‘Congratulations, you’re it. You’re the 2012 U.S. Junior National Team.’”
St. Louis Rowing Club coach Andrew Black said Francis, who has been rowing for about three years, is the fourth junior national team representative from SLRC in the last six years. “So we’re definitely making a noise nationally.”
“What a great time it’s been,” Francis said. “I had some other sports planned for my freshman year, but when a few of the crew coaches came to my school to preach about the sport, I decided to give it a go. It was the best decision of my life.
“A buddy and I won the 2010 Midwest Regionals in the pair. My crew won the silver medal in the coxed four at Youth Nationals in 2010, and my USA team got fifth place in the Junior World Championships.”
Black said Francis is “a natural athlete with an enormous engine.
“He’s an all-rounder. He doesn’t really have any weakness. I’d say his greatest strength is the great consistency of his stroke. It’s very important in rowing.
“He’ll row at one of the top five collegiate programs, which one will partly be determined by academics. Right away, he’ll be working to get into the USA under-23 team and that’s the track for the senior team and a shot at the Olympics. He may be ready for the Olympic team for Rio in 2016, but more likely he would aim for 2020. There are no guarantees, but I think he has the character to make it.”
Francis said his goal for the St. Louis Rowing Club team is simple – win.