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

Team England’s women held off Australia to match the result of the men 24 hours earlier

James Toney
in Birmingham
Saturday 30 July 2022 22:48 BST
(AFP via Getty Images)

Claudia Fragapane has certainly taken the long road back to the podium but now she’s got there again she admits her race could be nearly run.

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

This was followed by a world medal and a sequinned bid for the Glitterball with an appearance on Strictly Come Dancing.

But gymnastics is a sport based on the premise of what comes up must come down and those soaring highs were soon followed by crushing lows.

She announced she was quitting the sport, aged just 18, after failing to make the final at the Rio Olympics.

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

All of which meant her victory as part of England’s women’s gymnastics team, alongside Kelly Simm, Georgia-Mae Fenton, Alice Kinsella and Ondine Achampong, had extra significance.


Simm and Fragapane are close friends and when they tearfully embraced as the final results were confirmed, you knew the significance of the moment.

Simm is a reserve for next month’s European Championships in Munich while Fragapane hasn’t given up hope on the Worlds in Liverpool, though that selection process will be fiercely competitive.

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

“I was very emotional, crying all the time. I haven’t competed in a team competition since 2016 so it’s been quite a few years. I’ve had so many major injuries so to actually get back and just say I’ve done it again in a team is exciting. We just wanted to go out there, enjoy it and soak it all in.

“It’s been really, really hard. I actually shouldn’t be here. I pushed myself to be here. I didn’t do my major floor and beam routines but I just wanted to be here with the team and experience it all. It was a very hard journey, I’ve had a few operations.

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

An emotional Claudia Fragapane says this is her final Commonwealth Games (PA)

England’s men claimed their team title by a thumping margin 24 hours earlier but this tussle between England and Australia went right to the wire.

Ahead into the final rotation, with Australia’s gymnasts on the floor and England’s on the vault, the hosts were ahead by just 0.05 points.

However, Kinsella - who comes from just down the road in Sutton Coldfield - and Achampong nailed their efforts to also underline why they’ll be among the favourites for Sunday’s individual all-around title.

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

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

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