Rich Tortorelli, Assistant Athletic Director for Communications
PLOVDIV, Bulgaria – Oklahoma City University’s James Francis will compete for the United States in the lightweight men’s single sculls during the 2017 World Rowing Under-23 Championships starting Wednesday and running through Sunday at Maritsa River.
Francis, a senior-to-be from St. Louis, will be among the 845 athletes representing 54 nations at the World Rowing Under-23 Championships. Watch the racing live here.
Francis qualified for the event June 29 at Mercer Lake in West Windsor Township, N.J. Francis pulled ahead of Sam Melvin of SoCal Scullers in the closest race of the day. Francis, affiliated with the New York Athletic Club, took the race by 1.27 seconds in a time of 7 minutes, 18.22 seconds.
“Oh my God, that was so much fun,” Francis said following the race. “Those guys are fast, man, really fast. Honestly all I was thinking was just stick to the training. Most people fade in the third 500 meters, and I kept it strong through there.
“I didn’t really focus on the first thousand meters, I just kind of found my tempo and then the training kicked in for the last thousand. I checked out the race a few times, but all I was thinking was, just win the race. Just churn the butter.”
Francis picked up the win in the Head of the Oklahoma Regatta in the single on Oct. 2 on the Oklahoma River for the Stars. As a freshman, Francis secured a third-place finish in the men’s collegiate single during the Dad Vail Regatta on May 9, 2015 at the Schuylkill River.
“This is very exciting and really is a proud moment for our program to see one of our athletes achieve such success and now representing our country,” OCU director of river operations Mike Knopp said. “We are very proud of him and will be cheering him and Team USA on.”
Fan can help send Francis to the World Rowing Under-23 Championships with a tax-deductible donation to offset the travel expenses by going here.
“Jimmy is so well deserving to represent the United States on the under-23 team,” OCU coach Tom Dougherty said. “He has dedicated himself to his training and has put in the hard work. His enthusiasm is unmatched. Jimmy is an excellent representative of our rowing program, and now he is going to be a great representative for the United States in the under-23 lightweight men’s single.”
OCU’s Head of the Oklahoma Regatta takes place Oct. 7-8 on the Oklahoma River.