Miguel Francis: Great Britain switch will help fulfil my potential

Miguel Francis
Miguel Francis (centre) ran the seventh fastest 200m in 2016, clocking 19.88 seconds

Miguel Francis says he is more likely to fulfil his potential after switching allegiance from Antigua and Barbuda to Great Britain.

The 22-year-old, who ran the seventh fastest 200m of 2016, is eligible for Britain as he was born in Montserrat, an Overseas Territory without its own Olympic team.

"I think I'll be less stressed when in a better environment, where people look after you better," he told BBC Sport.

"I do think I will perform better."

He can compete for Britain immediately.

Francis, who is part of a Jamaica-based training group coached by Glenn Mills and led by 100m and 200m world record holder Usain Bolt, ran a personal best of 19.88 seconds in June. Bolt's record is 19.19, set at the 2009 World Championships.

Adam Gemili, 23, competed for Britain in the 200m at Rio 2016 and finished fourth in the final with a time of 20.12. His personal best is 19.97.

Miguel Francis and Usain Bolt
Francis shares a coach with Usain Bolt - here the two are pictured competing at the 2015 World Championships

Francis was due to also compete at last summer's Olympics, but had to withdraw with a hamstring injury suffered in training.

He started the process to transfer his allegiance in August - before Rio - but appeared unlikely to see it through after announcing an apparent U-turn in March.

Then he told the Antigua Observer that "things got into my head" and "Antigua is who I want to run for", while admitting the condition of the country's only athletics track was a concern.

Now he insists he is more comfortable representing Britain.

"I'm running for who I am supposed to be running for," he added.

"Before I moved to Antigua my only option was Britain, but then Antigua wanted me to run for them. I ran for them for my career basically."

Francis' family fled Montserrat for Antigua following a volcanic eruption when he was six months old.

His parents have lived in Wolverhampton since 2014 and Francis has visited the area several times.

Zharnel Hughes - born in the British overseas territory of Anguilla - and the United States-born quartet of Tiffany Porter, Cindy Ofili, Shante Little and Montene Speight have all switched allegiance to Britain in recent years.

The switches led to criticism from several other British athletes, including former world indoor 60m champion Richard Kilty.

Three athletes, three years on
In the 2014 World Junior Championships, Miguel Francis failed to make the final of the 200m running for Antigua.
Yorkshire's Thomas Somers made the final, finishing seventh, but has struggled with injury in recent years.
Zharnel Hughes, who switched from Anguilla to Britain in 2015, finished fifth.
How can sportsmen and women qualify for Britain?
ReasonExamples
When is a Briton not a Briton? Read more in Tom Fordyce's blog from 2013
PassportIf you hold a British passport, regardless of where you were born, you are eligible.Tour de France winner Chris Froome - born in Kenya, schooled in South Africa, with a father and grandparents all born in Britain.
Parent born in UKIf you are born and raised overseas, but subsequently move to the UK, with a British parent, as a child.Double Olympic champion Mo Farah - born in Somalia, moved to Britain aged eight to live with his British-born father Mukhtar
Residency rulesIn football and rugby, having an English, Scottish or Welsh parent or grandparent is enough for governing bodies, regardless of which passport the player holds.England rugby internationals include Brad Barritt (South Africa), Manu Tuilagi (Samoa), Mako Vunipola (New Zealand)

Additional reporting by Patrick Jennings.

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