Commonwealth Games 2014: Francesca Jones saves best for last as she ends gymnastics career with gold

The 23-year-old dedicated her performances to the people who helped her get to the top

glasgow

After winning five silver medals here, the about-to-retire Francesca Jones approached the sixth and final individual rhythmic gymnastics event with nothing to lose. "I decided to dance my heart out, as it's the last routine in my life", she said afterwards. It worked. She won her first Commonwealth gold in her last competitive routine in her third and final Games.

The 23-year-old from Wales, who has had to fight back from hip surgery, bowed out on a high by claiming her nation's first Commonwealth Games rhythmic gymnastics gold medal in the last individual apparatus final with the ribbon.

In a nerve-jangling ending, Jones was left anxiously awaiting the outcome of an appeal by Patricia Bezzoubenko, the Canadian gymnast who had beaten Jones to gold in the other five categories – the team event, all-around, hoop, ball and clubs finals. It was rejected. Jones had won the ribbon gold.

She scored 14.500, ahead of Malaysia's Wong Poh San with 14.250 while Bezzoubenko had to settle for bronze with 13.800.

"I could never even imagine that one," Jones said. "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.

"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 won silver medals in the team event on Thursday and the all-around final on Friday. The Welsh gymnast won three more silvers in the hoop, ball and clubs while her team-mate Laura Halford added to her all-around bronze with another in the ball final.

Jones, who had hip surgery after the London Olympics two years ago to cure a long-standing injury, dedicated her performances to the people who helped her get to the top. "I wanted to do the job for the team, for the two girls who came with us and the reserve and everybody, the whole team of people who have got us here and put their whole hearts into it," she 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."

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. 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."

For Halford, her own success at the Games came as something of 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."

Jones was beaten to top spot in the first final of the day when Bezzoubenko won her third gold with a hoop routine of 14.800, with Jones second, 0.05 marks back.

In the ball final, the Welsh gymnast added to her silver collection and Halford claimed bronze behind Bezzoubenko.

The Canadian won her fifth gold with a 15.350 score in the clubs final, beating Jones and Themida Christodouli of Cyprus but it was Jones who finally came out on top in the ribbon.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most