The very best rhythmic gymnasts from across the Commonwealth nations showcased the sport at its finest with beautiful and skilful routines in front of a packed SSE Hydro crowd as medals were decided in the individual all-around final.
The Home Nation battle was between two Welsh stars, 2012 Olympian Francesca (Frankie) Jones and reigning British Champion Laura Halford, the rising star against the legend, teammates in a friendly battle for glory.
The competition was electric with the medal positions constantly changing as the gymnasts completed each of their four different routines. In the end it was Frankie Jones who came out with the silver scoring 57.350 and Laura Halford the bronze (56.225) with Canadian favourite Patricia Bezzoubenko winning the well-deserved gold (59.175).
The Welsh teammates, fresh from winning team silver the day before, were superb throughout the competition, Laura excelling with hoop, Frankie with ball and it was that routine that made the difference allowing Frankie to creep ahead in the standings with the final ribbon routines further confirming the positions.
For Frankie this was her third Commonwealth medal, to go with hoop silver in Delhi and team silver in Glasgow, with more opportunities to come in Saturday's individual apparatus finals, she said after a tearful medal presentation: “ I was so emotional receiving the medal and seeing Laura beside me and the two Welsh flags being raised. I’m so grateful to all those who have supported me and the incredible crowd in the arena and very proud that I was able to win this medal for them. It was almost unimaginable a few years ago that you would see two Welsh gymnasts on the medal podium and it’s an amazing achievement for us all, I feel so blessed to be a part of this.”
Laura was equally delighted to grab her second medal in her first Games: “When I saw my name on the leader board it was just incredible, I’m just so pleased and amazed. It's hard to put into words how I’m feeling, it’s an absolute dream”.
How the medal chase unfolded...
With top qualifier Canadian, Bezzoubenko making an early error with the hoop Frankie Jones looked to gain early advantage and did just that with a clean and composed and confident opening performance. Her ball routine was packed with emotion, the ball dancing around her as she balletically glided across the floor. Lying in third at the halfway point and on to hoops, Frankie was mesmerising, her quick hands flicking the clubs around and above her she showed all her experience to command the floor and end catching both clubs in unison to score highly and jump into the second spot. With the final apparatus, the ribbon, Frankie was at her beautiful best, her experience clearly showing as she ignored the pressure to compete confidently, showing great skill and speed.
British Champion Laura Halford wanted to prove herself in the all-around final and got off to the perfect start, her hoop routine full of energy and purpose, well executed with great control for an outstanding unbeatable score of 14.500 and the early lead. With the ball Laura demonstrated her incredible flexibility, balance and poise with incredible pirouette skills and control of the ball for a superb score and place second at the halfway point. With clubs she was again showing great form and composure as the competition heated up, producing a clean error free routine to stay in the medal hunt. With the final ribbon routine Laura went for broke with a dazzling display with tiny errors overshadowed by great performance value.
England’s Stephani Sherlock had a great competition with stylish and crowd-pleasing routines giving her a total score of 51.175 for 11th place. 2012 Olympian Lynne Hutchison came out and showed great confidence to execute well performed routines. Lynne was keen to express herself and entertain the crowd and this showed in her determined and dramatic performances scoring her 51.025 for 12th place.
Scotland’s Lauren Brash drew strength from the deafening reception she received from the home crowd. Her performances were full of energy and clearly showed she was enjoying being in the lime-light with Scottish flags being waved after every move, her final ribbon routine a joy to watch she scored a total of 44.875 points to place in 16th.
Frankie Jones (WAL) 2nd - hoop 14.250, ball 14.200, clubs 14.700, ribbon 14.200, total 57.350
Laura Halford (WAL) 3rd - hoop 14.500, ball 13.975, clubs 14.500, ribbon 13.250, total 56.225
Stephani Sherlock (ENG) 11th - hoop 13.550, ball 13.025, clubs 12.050, ribbon 12.550, total 51.175
Lynne Hutchison (ENG) 12th - hoop 12.900, ball 11.950, clubs 13.275, ribbon 12.900, total 51.025
Lauren Brash (SCO) 16th - hoop 10.800, ball 11.350, clubs 11.400, ribbon 11.325, total 44.875