Stuart Weir profiles sprinter Francena McCorory who formed part of USA’s winning 4x400m relay team at the London Olympics four years ago

For the second year running, Francena McCorory has missed out on an individual 400m place on the US team for a major championship but she’ll still be in Rio, having been named as part of the Olympic 4x400m relay squad.

Like so many athletes, McCorory (pictured above, right) has a teacher to thank for her introduction to the sport. “When I was 12 years old, my gym teacher discovered that I could run,” she explained. “He helped me get on the junior high school, junior varsity team and I have been running ever since. I broke the national high school record in my senior year in high school.”

The 27-year-old’s breakthrough came when she was selected for the US team for the 2011 World Championships, where she came fourth in the 400m final.

“It was kind of tough coming from college and becoming a professional athlete but I learned from that,” she remembered. “It was good. Transitioning was tough – the races are different and you are racing different people.”

McCorory made the London 2012 Olympic final, but in a race with four women under 50 seconds, she ran 50.33 for seventh place. She still took many positives from it.

“London was a great experience as well,” she said. “Over the years I am learning and getting better and better as an athlete. So I am happy with my progress. I had a great Olympic experience. It was wonderful to be there.”

She also won a relay gold, running with what she described as a “great group of women”.

McCorory, who was joined on that team by DeeDee Trotter, Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards-Ross, added: “I remember us all coming together and hugging each other. It was such a great honour to represent the United States of America and bring home another gold medal.”

She loves relays and has won six medals in the 4x400m at major championships, including the 2011, 2013 and 2015 World Championships, as well as at the 2014 World Indoor Championships and the 2015 World Relays.

“It is always fun to come together as a team to represent USA,” she said. “We have the whole country on our back and it’s so nice to come across the finish line first. We love it.”

In the recent US Olympic trials, McCorory won her 400m heat, was fastest in the semi-finals but finished fifth in the final. But while she is only in Rio for the 4x400m, you can be sure that she will be looking for a strong performance in the individual 400m in London this weekend.