Commonwealth Games 2014: Francesca Jones finally clinches gold as she 'dances her heart out' in last ever competitive rhythmic gymnastics routine
Jones had already secured five silver medals at the Commonwealth Games but finally walked away with gold in the ribbon
Saturday 26 July 2014
Wales' Francesca Jones "danced her heart out" to win her first Commonwealth gold medal in her last ever competitive rhythmic gymnastics routine in her third and final Games in Glasgow.
The 23-year-old bowed on on the ultimate high by taking the top spot on the podium in the last individual apparatus final with the ribbon to add to the five silver medals she won in the competition.
In a nerve-jangling ending which saw Jones left anxiously waiting the outcome of an enquiry by Canadian gymnast Patricia Bezzoubenko, who had won all five other gold medals in the team event, all-around, hoop, ball and clubs finals, the Welsh gymnast prevailed after the appeal was rejected.
Jones scored 14.500 with the ribbon to win gold, ahead of Malaysia's Wong Poh San who won silver with 14.250 and Bezzoubenko bronze with 13.800.
The medal was also Wales' first ever rhythmic gymnastics gold at a Commonwealth Games.
"I could never even imagine that one. I thought 'I'm going to go on and dance my heart out as it's the last routine in my life'. It's been a long time, I just wanted to enjoy that moment, and then to have that result... I'm so happy," Jones told Press Association Sport.
"I'm so proud and glad and happy I could do it for Team Wales. It's phenomenal, I can't even believe it. Just seeing the (Wales) flag up there blew my mind.
"It's not even a dream I could have had, it's just better than anything. I'm seriously struggling to find words."
Jones started the day having already won two silver medals in Thursday's team event and Friday's all-around final.
The Welsh gymnast won more silvers in the hoop, ball and clubs while team-mate Laura Halford added to her all-around bronze by winning the same colour medal in the ball final.
Jones' success in the competition came after she underwent hip surgery following London 2012 to cure a long-standing injury, and she dedicated her performances to the people who have helped her get to the top.
"I wanted to do the job for the team for the two girls that came with us and the reserve and everybody, the whole team of people that had got us here put their whole hearts into it," Jones said.
"The hours in the gym and the pure determination we've had the whole two years to get here. I wanted to do that job. The clubs routine that I did I wanted that one so badly for them all. That was the one I was focussing on so after that I thought I would do what I do because that's my end."
Despite this being the end of her own career, Jones believes the future is bright for Welsh rhythmic gymnastics, especially Halford.
When asked if she might reconsider her decision to retire, Jones said: "No not a chance. I'm happy, I'm done. I'm so proud of the journey I've come from the beginning of when I started until now. It's perfect.
"I just hope I can carry on with coaching and keep involved with the sport because it's the thing closest to my heart.
"Laura has been amazing. For her it's her first big competition I'm so proud of her. She's got big things to come. I just hope I can be there with her for the journey with her."
For Halford, her own success at the Games came as something as a surprise.
She said: "I just wanted to come into this and enjoy the experience so to come into this and win a medal is a bonus really. I am so pleased for Frankie. She's inspired me since she won a medal in Delhi and she's inspiring me now.
"I'm looking forward to the future now."
Jones was beaten to top spot in the first final of the day by Bezzoubenko, who won her third gold with a hoop routine of 14.800, with Jones second 0.05 marks back, and Poh San won bronze with 14.650.
The Welsh gymnast then added to her silver collection and Halford claimed bronze in the second final of the day with the ball behind Bezzoubenko.
The Canadian won her fifth gold shortly after with a 15.350 score in the clubs final, ahead of Jones and Cyprus' Themida Christodouli but it was Jones who came out on top in the ribbon final following an unsuccessful appeal by Bezzoubenko.
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