Fran­cis proud of sil­ver medal af­ter get­ting sport­ing chance

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - JIM TUCKER

INDIGE­NOUS trail­blazer Fran­cis New­man still craved a con­tact sport when her rugby league team folded in Ba­m­aga yet never imag­ined it would be judo fill­ing the void in the Ba­hamas.

Her sil­ver medal yes­ter­day at the Com­mon­wealth Youth Games was won­der­ful re­ward for the dreams that are pos­si­ble even when the com­bat sport had never been taught un­til five years ago in her re­mote com­mu­nity near the tip of Cape York.

Fran­cis, 16, is the daugh­ter of North­ern Penin­sula Area mayor Ed­ward New­man and her pride is ob­vi­ous in broad­en­ing the sport­ing land­scape for Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait is­landers.

“My lo­cal league team stopped play­ing and this new mar­tial arts kind of thing started and it’s been re­ally good for me,” Fran­cis said af­ter suc­cess in the - 70kg divi­sion.

“I’m so proud to be rep­re­sent­ing my cul­ture and the Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait is­lander peo­ples.

“I had a good role model with my un­cle who showed that you can achieve things and see dif­fer­ent coun­tries even from a lit­tle town like ours.”

Her un­cle just hap­pens to be Nathan Jawai, the tow­er­ing bas­ket­baller who be­came the first indige­nous Aus­tralian to play in the NBA with the Toronto Rap­tors and Min­nesota Tim­ber­wolves be­fore his more re­cent im­pact for the Cairns Taipans in the NBL.

The Year 11 stu­dent is grate­ful that sen­sei Xavier Barker set up judo’s most iso­lated dojo in Ba­m­aga.

“We started in the town hall and now we are in a small gym with 20- 30 kids en­joy­ing judo and its dis­ci­pline,” New­man said.

“I still fol­low the Bris­bane Bron­cos and would love to play league again ... if ever we get a proper team.”

Her suc­cess was part of an up­beat open­ing in judo at the Youth Games with Syd­ney’s Tim Holling­bery (+ 90kg) win­ning gold and Can­berra’s Con­nor Smith (- 90kg) and Syd­ney’s Uros Nik­ilic (- 73kg) also tak­ing sil­ver.

Smith’s judo her­itage is rich with the Com­mon­wealth Games with mum Narelle Hill win­ning bronze in Auck­land in 1990 and un­cle Tom Hill strik­ing gold in 2002 in Manch­ester.

SIL­VER STAR: Ba­m­aga’s Fran­cis New­man poses with her sil­ver medal af­ter the girls 70kg judo fi­nal at the 2017 Youth Com­mon­wealth Games in Nas­sau, Ba­hamas. Pic­ture: GETTY IM­AGES

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