Bristol gymnast Claudia Fragapane wins fifth Commonwealth Games gold

Gymnast Claudia Fragapane has admitted that her fifth Commonwealth Games gold will be her last after tasting team success at Arena Birmingham. Bristolian Fragapane, 24, became the first English woman to win four gold medals at a single edition of the Commonwealth Games for 84 years in Glasgow in 2014.

But, after contending with a series of career-threatening injuries, including concussion and operations on her ankle and elbow, just to make the team for this summer’s Games, she ruled out being around to compete in four years’ time when the event will be staged in Victoria, Australia. Fragapane brought the house down with a stirring floor routine at Birmingham and, whilst her score of 12.450 was not enough to land her a place in the individual final, her performance proved a fitting send-off from Commonwealth duty.

After embracing her 27-year-old team-mate Kelly Simm, who also won a medal in Glasgow, the former St Bernadette Catholic Secondary School pupil said: “This is definitely our last Commonwealth Games because we’re not going to go on for four more years. We shared a really lovely moment, we were together in 2014 [winning gold] and eight years later we’re still carrying on.

READ MORE: Teresa Fragapane celebrates 25 years as a legendary Bristol hairdresser

“I was very emotional and Kelly was trying to keep it together. Speaking for myself, I haven’t competed in a team competition since 2016, Kelly 2018.

Claudia Fragapane (centre) with fellow team gold-medal winners (from left-to-right) Ondine Achampong, Georgia-Mae Fenton, Alice Kinsella and Kelly Simm
Claudia Fragapane (centre) with fellow team gold-medal winners (from left-to-right) Ondine Achampong, Georgia-Mae Fenton, Alice Kinsella and Kelly Simm
(Image: PA Wire/PA Images)

“It has been quite a few years and we’ve shared quite a few injuries. I’ve had three or four major injuries so to come back and say I’ve done it again is really exciting. It has been really hard.

“I shouldn’t have come back so quickly so I shouldn’t actually be here. I pushed myself, I didn’t do my major beam floor routines but I just wanted to be there with the team and experience it all. I’ll take it one step at a time – I’ve got to be careful with this fragile body now.”

Commenting on the support she received from a vocal home crowd, Fragapane added: “The crowd was roaring. It was the best feeling ever.

“We just said to ourselves we’ll go out there, enjoy it and really soak it all in. You never know what will happen injury-wise.”

Fragapane acquired celebrity status after her heroics in Glasgow eight years ago and went on to finish fourth in the 2016 series of Strictly Come Dancing. She is one of five sisters and her mum Teresa has ran the Milano hairdressers on Two Mile Hill in St George for more than 27 years.

While Fragapane’s experience helped guide the team to victory, it was teenager Ondine Achampong who nailed her crucial final vault to secure gold. In her first major multi-sports competition, the 18-year-old scored 14.15, which was enough to see off the surging Australian team, who had reduced the deficit to a mere 0.05 points going into the final rotation. Alice Kinsella and Georgia-Mae Fenton were the other members of England’s jubilant five-strong team.

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