(Date: 8 March 2006)
Alleyne FRANCIQUE, Grenada (400m)
Born 7June 1976 in St Andrew’s, Grenada
Lives in College Station, Texas
Coached by Pat Henry
Everybody knows how big an achievement it is to appear on a postage stamp. Alleyne Francique, though, was quite satisfied to appear on a phone card. A special edition was launched in his native Grenada in 2004, to help fund the nation’s Olympic team.
For a time, it appeared that Alleyne would always be a bridesmaid, never a bride. He had made consecutive World Championships finals in the 400m dash (7th in 2001 and 2003), and he had been twice a National Collegiate Athletics Association silver medallist indoors and out. But the tall Grenadian, built like a quarter-miler should be, lean frame and angular limbs, began to come of age in 2002, when he dominated the NCAA Indoor Championships. His 45.35 seconds in the heats for Louisiana State University remains one of the fastest ever.
It was not until 2004 however that the then 28-year-old really emerged. He had a world medal already to his name – his 45.25 was good for third in the inaugural World Athletics Final in 2003 – but in 2004 he won his first major title at the World Indoor Championship, clocking 45.88 in Budapest.
After dominating the 2004 Grand Prix season with three wins and a second place finish, it was reasonable that a lot was expected of Alleyne at the Olympics. Yet, he struggled in Athens, running fourth in 44.66 from lane 8 after barely making the final.
A major talent, and one of the genuine stars of global athletics, Alleyne would have been lost to the sport had he pursued his childhood dreams of playing cricket or soccer. But his ability in the 200m and 400m races became obvious and undeniable.
At the age of 21, Alleyne left Grenada – the Spice Isle – to take up studies at New Jersey’s Essex County Community College, where he showed enough ability to earn a scholarship to LSU. And it was here that Alleyne’s gifts would be nurtured by a man he considers almost a father.
Pat Henry, LSU’s head coach, replaced the father who had been absent in Alleyne’s upbringing. The eldest of six children, Alleyne has remarked that all the way up to St. Andrew’s Anglican Secondary School, there were days when he could not concentrate for hunger.
Today, his powers of concentration became such that Alleyne has helped a whole new generation of Grenadians focus on athletics. Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, rang the World Champion and four-time Sports Personality of the Year up after his Budapest win.
Dr Mitchell was just one of thousands of Grenadians who followed Alleyne at World Indoors and the Olympics. The following year, Alleyne was named a Grenada ambassador at large, and he has since signed a sponsorship deal with Nike.
Before the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, he spent a lot of time in Grenada recovering from an injury he picked up competing indoors. Though he did contest the 400m at the World Championships in Helsinki, his 46.59 could not get him past the semifinals.
Alleyne however has now fully recovered and started 2006 with a bang, running three of the top 20 times in the world, topping his series of 46.19, 46.19, 46.10 with a tremendous run of 45.80 in Liévin. He would certainly be looking forward to showing that he can live up to great expectations at the World Indoor Championships in Moscow.
44.60 Monterrey 11 06 2005
44.47 Osaka 08 05 2004
44.78 Madrid 19 07 2003
44.72 Poznan 18 08 2002
44.99 Columbia, SC 13 05 2001
46.46 Winnipeg 24 07 1999
Prepared by Terry Finisterre for the IAAF Focus on Athletes project. © IAAF 2006.