Olympic gold medalist Francia thanks fire company
After winning gold at the 2012 London Olympics, Susan Francia may be taking a rest from rowing, but she’s still on the move.
A native of Abington Township, Francia recently returned home for a visit after a victorious two weeks at the London Olympics. Francia, who is a two-time Olympic champion, paid a visit to the McKinley Fire Company in Elkins Park Aug. 23 to thank those there for supporting her while she was competing.
Several members of the fire company know Francia and encouraged the company to create awareness that “one of their own” was competing in the Olympics, McKinley Fire Chief Gregory Breyer said. That led to putting up a sign to recognize her victory.
In front of the fire station there’s a sign that reads: “Congratulations Susan, Gold Medal Olympian — USA Rowing London 2012.”
“I have a sign out there,” Francia said. “You can’t get much bigger than that.”
As a gesture of thanks to the fire company Francia gave the fire department an official London Olympics 2012 baseball cap and signed her name to it.
McKinley Fire Company President Paul Conroy said it was awesome that Francia came to visit them and that he was very proud of all she has accomplished.
During her visit, Francia posed for pictures with members of the fire department, tried on an official fireman’s uniform and sat in a firetruck. She even showed off her Olympic gold medal while sharing stories about meeting Paul McCartney, pro wrestler Dwayne Johnson, better known as The Rock, and describing the closing ceremonies.
“I missed the opening ceremony, because I had to race the next day, so I watched it on TV like everyone else and went to bed early,” she said. “But the closing ceremony was like this awesome concert. George Michael performed and he was only a few feet away from where I was. The Spice Girls performed too.”
Francia who graduated from Abington Senior High School in 2000, said it’s been great to be back in her hometown.
Since she’s been home, Francia said she’s been relaxing, catching up on sleep and even took a trip to the pool with her parents to swim. She said she’s also been enjoying eating “good normal food.”
“When I came home, I just needed some raw vegetables,” Francia said. “In the [Olympic] village [where I stayed] there was a McDonald’s and it was free for us. At 2 a.m. we [the team] would get McDonald’s.”
The best part about being home, Francia said, has been seeing how excited everyone has been to see her and the medal.
“The biggest joy for me has been seeing other people’s joy,” she said.
When asked if she will be gearing up to train for the 2016 Rio Olympics, she said she was not sure. Francia said four years is a long time away and that when she trains she has to give 100 percent and doesn’t have time for much else.
However, Francia said she is gearing up to head to California for a week to coach at a children’s rowing club, before making her way back to the East Cost to do some PR work.
Breyer said it was “absolutely inspiring” watching the Olympics and knowing someone from his hometown had won a gold medal.
“[She’s] inspiring to kids who grew hearing that you can do anything you put your mind to,” he said. “[Francia] is living proof of that.”