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.
Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov upset top-seeded Rafael Nadal 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4) in the third round of the Rogers Cup on Thursday night.The 18-year-old Shapovalov, from Richmond Hill, Ontario, advanced to a quarterfinal meeting Friday night with France’s Adrian Mannarino, who defeated Hyeon Chung of South Korea 6-3, 6-3.Shapovalov has taken major strides this week to reach his goal of cracking the world’s top 100 with wins over Rogerio Dutra Silva and 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro. He also halted Nadal’s bid to regain the No. 1 ranking, which the Spaniard could have achieved by reaching the semifinals.Shapovalov battled back after Nadal cruised through the first set, then erased a 3-0 deficit in the tiebreaker for the biggest victory of his career.Roger Federer overcame a weak first set to post a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Spaniard David Ferrer in an earlier third-round match.In Friday’s quarterfinals, the second-seeded Federer will face 12th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain, who outlasted Frenchman Gael Monfils 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (2) on center court at Uniprix Stadium.Unseeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman posted a strange win over American Jared Donaldson 0-6, 7-5, 7-5 to advance to a quarterfinal meeting with Robin Haase, the 52nd-ranked Dutchman who upset seventh-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-1.Kevin Anderson of South Africa downed American Sam Querrey 6-4, 6-1 and will next play fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev, who ousted 16th-seeded Nick Kyrgios 6-4, 6-3.Federer, who breezed past Canadian Peter Polansky in the second round on Wednesday, struggled in the opening set, spraying balls long, wide or into the net, but gradually rediscovered at least some of the form that has seen the 36-year-old Swiss earn two grand slam wins this year.advertisementFederer is 17-0 in his career against the 35-year-old Ferrer, who was ranked third in the world in 2013 but is now at No.33.Bautista Agut fought off a match point to force a tiebreaker, which the tired-looking Monfils opened with a double fault and never challenged again.The unseeded Monfils played his third straight three-set match, including an upset win over fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori in the second round.Schwartzman saved four match points to upset third-seeded Dominic Thiem in the second round. The win over Donaldson put him in a quarterfinal for the sixth time this year. Schwartzman’s only ATP win was on clay in Istanbul last year.Donaldson, 20, was seeking a first career quarterfinal in a Masters Series tournament, where he is 0-13 in round of 16 matches.
OTTAWA — Canada plans to attract more international students by expanding its presence overseas in an effort to advance classroom diversity and boost economic benefits that already amount to billions per year.The economic effects of foreign students nearly doubled between 2010 and 2016, when they reached a total of $15.5 billion in Canada for everything from tuition fees to rent and groceries, according to a federal analysis.To put that in perspective, the document says the sector supported nearly 170,000 jobs in 2016 and had greater economic impacts than Canada’s exports of auto parts, aircraft and lumber.The vast majority of foreign students have been coming from India and China, while recent years have seen surges from countries with fast-growing economies like Vietnam. Officials from universities, colleges and the federal government are now in the early stages of developing an “aligned” strategy that will broaden campaigns in other parts of the world, Universities Canada president Paul Davidson said in an interview. He expects Canada to promote itself as an education destination in places with expanding economies and large populations of young people, like Colombia and parts of Africa.“We’re looking at where in the world there is a growing middle-class demand for higher education, a place where Canada has got linkages and connections,” said Davidson, whose organization represents 96 institutions.Canada has been an attractive place to study for years. In 2000, federal numbers show there were 122,665 valid study permits in Canada — a number that hit 572,415 last year for an increase of 467 per cent. Numbers compiled by Universities Canada say full-time international student enrolment at universities rose by about 15 per cent across Canada between 2017 and 2018.The 2018 growth came despite a diplomatic dispute last August between Canada and Saudi Arabia, which has been one of the top home countries for international university students.The Saudi government suspended diplomatic ties with Canada, expelled the Canadian ambassador and recalled its own envoy to Ottawa after Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and her department criticized the regime on Twitter for its arrest of social activists. Saudi Arabia also ordered thousands of its citizens studying in Canada to come home.Davidson said diplomatic efforts by the federal officials and the higher-education community helped reduce the impact. In the end, he said many Saudi students stayed, including medical trainees who had been in Canada for several years as well as those in studying in other areas of health science and some graduate programs.“The Saudi situation underscored the importance of having a diverse range of countries to work with,” Davidson said.Last month’s federal budget announced nearly $148 million of funding over five years for international education, part of which will be dedicated to efforts to attract more foreign students to Canada.International Trade Minister Jim Carr said beyond the economic impacts, students from abroad often establish important, decades-long links with Canada.“We believe that international students add value to our communities, that they experience Canada’s fine institutions and take with them an appreciation of who we are as Canadians,” Carr said in an interview.“Sometimes they stay, sometimes they go back to their home countries and become, really, ambassadors for Canada.”Denise Amyot, president and CEO of Colleges and Institutes Canada, said foreign students bring new perspectives that help their Canadian classmates better understand the world. Their higher tuition fees strengthen institutions and ensure a wider choice of programs are offered for all students, she added.Amyot, who represents 132 publicly funded colleges and institutes, said her members have also seen rising numbers of international students. In 2006-07, she said foreign students made up a four per cent share of enrolment in the college system — by 2015-16, it had grown to eight per cent.She said immigration policy changes in Canada have helped it compete with other countries in attracting the world’s increasingly mobile post-secondary students. The policies, she added, have sped up visa processing times, permitted foreign students to work in Canada while they study and improved a graduate’s chance of obtaining permanent residency.Numbers from the Immigration Department show that last year 10,950 former study permit holders became permanent residents. Between 2015 and 2017, the annual total failed to eclipse 3,000.“Some of our best immigrants, in fact, have been international students that have studied in Canada, worked in Canada,” said Amyot. “This becomes very, very attractive and Canada has a shortage of employees right now, so it is really helping our labour-market situation.”Follow @AndyBlatchford on TwitterAndy Blatchford, The Canadian Press