Francis proud of silver medal after getting sporting chance
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.