Francis has a blast stateside

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VETERAN runner Francis Cannon has just returned from a trip of a lifetime after competing in the World Masters Athletics Championships in Sacramento.

The 63-year-old described his first foray onto American soil as “one of the best experiences” of his life. And although the running side ended in controversy and ultimately disappointment, Francis remained upbeat.

Speaking to the Hawick News this week he revealed how, competing against athletes from Columbia, America, Canada and Argentina, things didn’t go exactly to plan.

He said: “I finished sixth in my heat for the 800 metres and when the results came up there wasn’t a ‘Q’ next to my name saying I’d qualified.

“But when they announced the semi-finalists, my name came up on the electric scoreboard. When I went up to them though, they said they’d made a mistake.

“After complaining they just said they were very sorry and that was about all I got. You would have thought that the event, being a world championships, held in America, would have been better organised.”

A further heat in the 400m also ended in disappointment for the Teri as he finished fifth and again failed to qualify.

However, the event came after a season blighted with hamstring injuries for Francis, who has previously competed at events in Gateshead and on the continent in Italy.

He said: “I’ve had the problems since about March or April time and I’ve never been able to put in a proper training session yet.

“It also doesn’t help that I have to work up my time to get the time off, so I’m in really early at work and then I’m having to go training up the park at the end of a long day.

“But in the two races I competed in I set my two fastest times this year.

“I thought I would just blast it from the gun and I think I was in the lead for the first 300m. But my lack of training just told and they got away from me.”

After flying from Manchester to Philadelphia and then on to Sacramento, Francis revealed he was having to leave his hotel room shortly before 6am on race days for the early morning heats in order to avoid the searing Californian sunshine.

But it all added to his experience. “It was definitely one of the best experiences of my life. It was a complete adventure, absolutely tremendous,” he said.

Francis is next hoping to feature at Morebattle Games next month.