Claudia Fragapane completes comeback story with stunning gymnastics team gold at Commonwealth Games

Claudia Fragapane has certainly come a long way back to the podium, but now that she’s back there, she admits her race could be almost over.

Eight years ago, in Glasgow, she became the first Englishwoman in 84 years to win four gold medals at the Commonwealth Games.

A world medal and a sequined bid for the Glitterball followed with an appearance on Strictly Come Dancing.

But gymnastics is a sport built on the premise that what goes up must come down, and those highs were soon followed by crushing lows.

She announced she was giving up the sport at the age of just 18 after failing to reach the finals at the Rio Olympics.

Fragapane returned but then suffered a series of career-threatening injuries, missing out on defending her Commonwealth titles in 2018 with an Achilles tendon injury and suffering a severe concussion in training that ended her bid for the Tokyo Olympics last year.

All of this meant that her win as part of the England women’s gymnastics team carried added significance alongside Kelly Simm, Georgia-Mae Fenton, Alice Kinsella and Ondine Achampong.

(REUTERS)

Simm and Fragapane are close friends and as they tearfully hugged as they confirmed the final results, they knew the importance of the moment.

Simm is a reserve for next month’s European Championships in Munich, while Fragapane has not given up hope of going to the World Cup in Liverpool, although that selection process will be hard-fought.

“It’s hard to let go but we can definitely say these are our last Commonwealth Games,” said Fragapane.

“I was very emotional and cried the whole time. I haven’t competed in a team competition since 2016, so it’s been a few years. I’ve had so many bad injuries so it’s exciting to actually come back and just say I made it back in a team. We just wanted to get out there and enjoy it and soak it all up.

“It was really, really hard. I’m not supposed to be here. I pushed myself to be here. I didn’t do my big floor and beam routines but I just wanted to be here with the team and experience it all. It was a very tough road, I had a few surgeries.

“We’ll see how it goes because I have to be careful with this fragile body now.”

An emotional Claudia Fragapane says these will be her last Commonwealth Games

(PA)

England’s men clinched their team title by a huge margin 24 hours earlier, but this tussle between England and Australia went straight to the bottom.

In the last rotation, with Australia’s gymnasts on floor and England’s on vault, the hosts were just 0.05 points ahead.

However, Kinsella – who hails from Sutton Coldfield – and Achampong have both done their best to also underscore why they will be among the favorites for Sunday’s individual all-around title.

“We knew how close they were, but we just had to focus on what we were doing,” said Kinsella, who is now a four-time Commonwealth medalist and sees strong medal prospects for next week’s beam and floor finals.

“For me as a local girl, this was the most incredible experience and it means so much to share with these girls.”

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https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/commonwealth-games/2022-gymastics-claudia-fragapane-birmingham-b2134867.html Claudia Fragapane completes comeback story with stunning gymnastics team gold at Commonwealth Games

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