The final day of the Commonwealth Games 2014 rhythmic gymnastics and the final performances of Welsh gymnast Frankie Jones’s, the six time British champion, 2012 Olympian and a seven time Commonwealth Games medal winner ending her illustrious career in fitting style with the ribbon gold medal.
Frankie has long been the leading figure in rhythmic gymnastics in Great Britain, dedicating her life to training and committing to the sport she loves and so it was perfectly fitting that having led her Welsh team to silver on Thursday and claiming a superb all-around silver on Friday that on the final day Frankie made even more history taking hoop silver, ball silver, clubs silver and the gold with the ribbon her final ever routine.
Her achievements cement her place as Britain’s greatest ever rhythmic gymnast (including hoop silver in Delhi 2010); with tears of pride in her eyes afterwards she said “I was trying so hard not to cry when the Welsh flag was raised. Today I wanted to come out and try and get more medals for Team Wales but also to perform for myself in my last ever competition. With the final ribbon routine I had no nerves I just knew that I wanted the last ever performance to be special and to enjoy and savour it and that worked.
Hearing the Welsh anthem knowing all the support and trust everyone has given me over the years – I felt like I was paying everyone back. It’s amazing to end a career in such a special way, I couldn’t ask for any more than to enjoy my last routine and to win the gold medal, it’s an absolute dream.”
Frankie’s teammate, British champion Laura Halford has demonstrated in these Games that she is more than ready to continue Frankie’s legacy as she also shone on the final day to win her third medal of the Games with bronze in the ball finals, Laura summed up her first Commonwealth Games saying: “It’s hard to put into words how amazing this experience has been, I’ve exceeded all my expectations. I now know that I can compete in these huge arenas and in front of the big crowds and that gives me so much confidence for the future, the whole Games for me and Team Wales has been incredible.”
The individual apparatus finals saw the top eight qualifiers with each hand apparatus – hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon – each routine requiring the gymnasts to perform with grace, beauty and above all tremendous skill to take the medals. Canadian all-round champion Patricia Bezzoubenko was the favourite and so it proved as she took all the hoop, ball and clubs titles.
Home Nation reports…
England’s Stephani Sherlock began the Home Nation competition with a beautiful hoop routine, her difficulty level not as high as some of her competitors but she made up for it in performance continuing her consistent Games displays to score 13.987 for 7th place. Frankie Jones had an agonising wait for the her score to come up after her dynamic and dramatic hoop routine packed with difficult pirouette skills and huge throws of the hoop, eventually the judges settled on 14.750 just .050 off gold for Frankie. Teammate Laura Halfords routine was lively and buoyant, Laura full of energy as she jigged across the floor, intertwining with the hoop and ending by catching the hoop to the beat of the music to score her 14.250 and 5th.
Stephani opened the ball proceedings with an emotive performance, the ball glued to her body and she glided across the floor to score her 12.950 and 7th. Laura demonstrated her superb body lines and flexibility in her routine, extended her body fully in the pirouettes and performing great control for a superb score of 14.550 for bronze. Frankie’s ball routine flowed beautifully, her coordination with the ball and choreography with the music impeccable showing free flowing confidence and expression as she grew into the competition with an outstanding score of 14.875 for silver once more.
With the clubs Frankie looked incredibly determined and focused, the crowd clapping along to the drum beats of her dramatic routine, she couldn’t quite hold her final striking pose as she leapt to catch the clubs but her smile afterwards showed she enjoyed the performance as did the judges to score her 14.800 and another stunning silver.
England’s Lynne Hutchison competed at London 2012 with the GBR Group but here in Glasgow she was back on her own and determined to entertain the crowds. Her dramatic ribbon performance was outstanding included a sensational multiple pirouette with the ribbon flowing around her that drew loud applause from the crowd. She finished and saluted the arena with waves and bows and a score of 13.550 and 5th. Laura Halford ended her spectacular debut Games with a superbly well controlled routine, the 18 year old showing fantastic composure as she has throughout all the competitions to score 12.850 for 8th.
Frankie had the whole crowd behind her as she went out to perform her final routine. She showed expression, confidence, superb skills, great body lines and of course plenty of emotion as she ended to rapturous applause, her routine scoring a sensational 14.500 points and the gold medal.