For two and a half months last season, Javon Francis was just one stride away from the five-year-old national 400-metre record of 44.40 seconds. Then national teammate Rusheen McDonald blasted the record to 43.93 in the heats of the World Championships in Beijing. Now, with the Olympic Games on the horizon, Francis is happy for McDonald, but says he isn’t chasing records. His focus is on the Games. The former Calabar High School standout just missed the World Championships final last year in Beijing, China, and wants to improve on that at the Olympics. “Right now, I’m staying focused, trying to make the final this year,” he said quietly, but confidently earlier this week. He wishes his national relay teammate well, and noting McDonald’s troubles with injuries, he said: “I hope he stays injury-free. Rusheen is a good guy.” Francis emphasised: “I’m just going to work hard. I’m not going after any record. Records come, records go. “I just want to try to stay focused for the Olympics,” he reiterated, “and just go out there and do my best and represent my country to the fullest.” Now a repeat semi-finalist at the World Championships, the Michael Clarke-coached Akan Track Club athlete bettered his old personal best in 2015. That mark was his 2014 Boys’ Championships Class One record run of 45.00 seconds. Last year, he sprinted past that time on five occasions, with his fastest clocking – 44.50 – coming with McDonald not far behind in 44.60 seconds on June 13 inside the National Stadium. That was McDonald’s lifetime best until his destruction of the national record held by Jermaine Gonzales.
Maharashtra batsmen Swapnil Gugale and Ankit Bawne on Friday posted an unbroken 594-run stand for the third wicket to record the highest partnership in the history of the Ranji Trophy.Riding on the duo’s superb performance with the bat, hosts Maharashtra declared their first innings at 635/2 with seven overs’ play left on the second day of their contest against Delhi at the Wankhede Stadium.In reply, Delhi scored 21 in five overs without losing a wicket in their first innings, still trailing the hosts by 614 runs with two days of play left.In the process, the duo created a new record, that of highest partnership for any wicket in India’s first-class cricket.The previous record belonged to legends Vijay Hazare and Gul Mohammad, who engineered 577 runs for the fourth wicket for Baroda against Holkar back in the 1946/47 season.It is also the second-highest association the history of the game, behind only the 624 that Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene added in a Test match against South Africa. Before this, the 580 that Rafatullah Mohmand and Aamer Sajjad added for WAPDA against Sui Southern Gas Corporation in Pakistan’s domestic cricket was the second highest.The previous highest stand for the third wicket was by Sagar Jogiyani and Ravindra Jadeja. The Saurashtra duo had posted 539 runs against Gujarat during the 2012/13 season.Gugale, 25, remained not out on 351 off 521 balls, while the 23-year-old Bawne took 500 balls to score his 258 runs.The Gugale-Bawne stand is also the fourth 500 plus stand ever posted in a Ranji Trophy match. Cheteshwar Pujara and Jadeja posted an unbroken 520-run stand against Orissa in 2008-09 season.advertisementThe new format for the current Ranji season includes matches being played an neutral venues around the country.