Francena McCorory made record setting history in 2006 at the NSAF Indoor Nationals (then the Nike Indoor Nationals) when she smashed the high school indoor 400 meter record on the flat track at the Prince George Sports Complex in Landover, Maryland. Everyone watched in utter amazement as she surged off the final turn and all eyes then darted to the finish line clock as she surged across the finish line. 51.93 breaking Sanya Record's American high school record.
In conversation after the race we, NSAF, learned that perhaps the only person who was not stunned was her coach, Eddie Williams of Bethel High School. I recall Coach Williams calmly stating that this is what they had trained for!
Francena graduated high school and went on to Hampton University where she continued to excell. She was the NCAA Indoor champion in 2009 and Indoor and Outdoor champion in 2010. In 2010 she also broke the 19-year old Collegiate American indoor record with 50.54.
Her outstanding performances continued with runner-up honors at the 2010 (50.52) and 2011 (50.49) USA Outdoor National Championships and 4x4 relay gold at the 2011 World Championships.
2012 brought a third place at the Olympic Trials (50.43), 7th place at the Olympics and 4x4 relay Olympic Gold! (and congrats from President Obama!)
We recently posed some questions to Francena for this month's edition of "Where are They Now?"
NSAF: When did you get started running track?
Francena: I started running track in the 6th grade when my Social Studies teacher, Mr. Earl Holmes said to me, "You're a runner, go to practice." He made me go every day, so it's kind of his fault. But I didn’t really get serious about it until the 9th grade when I joined the varsity Bethel High school track team.
NSAF: Who inspired you to run track?
Francena: My Godmother Cantrese Pierce inspired me to run. She really encouraged me as a teenager and kept me on the right track."
NSAF: What was it like being a student athlete and running at your high school?
Francena: It was GREAT! I have always had alot of support from my family and friends so even though it was a challenge at first having that support kept things really smooth.
NSAF: What is your favorite memory from high school?
Francena: My favorite memory is dressing up as Michael Jackson my senior year for spirit week. I’m a really big fan so that was a lot of fun.
NSAF: Can you remember breaking the HS 400m record on the flat track at the High School National Indoor Championships? Describe your feelings after the race.
Francena: I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was extremely tired after the race but i couldn’t believe that I had shattered the record. I was really happy and I couldn’t stop thanking God.
NSAF: What was it like being a student-athlete and running at Hampton since it was so close to home?
Francena: It was great. I had the same support that I had all throughout my high school career, and it was extremely comforting knowing my family lived 10 minutes away.
NSAF: What is your favorite memory from college?
Francena: One of my favorite memories from college is being with my teammates just goofing off and having fun.
NSAF: What special training did you use for this Olympic Year?
Francena: I added on an extra weight lifting routine. As far as everything else it pretty much stayed the same.
NSAF: How would you rate your Olympic Experience– the Fans, Track, etc?
Francena: It was completely awesome. The energy in the Olympic stadium was so electric and amazing. Its something that i will never forget.
NSAF: What were you thinking when your hear your name called as OLYMPIC CHAMPION?
Francena: The feeling is indescribable. It just reminds me of how Blessed I am"
NSAF: Do you have any passions other than Track and Field?
Francena: I have always dreamed of becoming a mortician and opening my own funeral home.
NSAF: What are your expectations for next year?
Francena:I plan to improve my time in the 400m dash and earn a spot on the 2013 World Championship team if its Gods will.
NSAF: What will you do with your off-season downtime away from the track?
Francena: Right now I am visiting friends and family and eating all of the sweets and snacks in sight. LOL
NSAF: What advice would you give to other student athletes?
Francena: To never give up on your dreams. There may be obstacles along the way but the only way to be successful in life is the keep pushing forward all the way until the end.