World, European and Commonwealth medallist, Claudia Fragapane is ready to return to gymnastics action fully focused on the forthcoming Glasgow World Cup as she recently explained to UK Sport...
Claudia Fragapane had so much energy as a child that, at times, it became difficult for her parents to keep up. However, after being introduced to Gymnastics, Claudia has never looked back and is now fully focused on the both the 2016 Glasgow World Cup and Olympic Games in Rio.
“When I was young I was naturally quite competitive and bit a handful for my mum – you would normally find me bouncing off the walls in one way or another! She came up with the idea of joining Kingswood Gymnastics Club, which was nearby, and I loved it right away. There were so many different activities to try out and the mixture of hard work and danger really appealed to me. Soon after, they introduced me to Bristol Hawks and I’ve been there ever since!”
In 2014, Claudia was named BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year after making history by claiming team, all-around, vault and floor gold medals at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. However, two years on, she admits the media spotlight takes some getting used to.
“I went into the 2014 Commonwealth Games with the intention of having fun, gaining experience and competing to the best of my ability. So, to come away with four gold medals was a massive shock. The team had worked really hard and were confident that, if all went to plan, we would come away with a gold. Winning the other three was completely unexpected and, suddenly, I was being approached by the media. The attention was all slightly surreal but I’m slowly getting used to it!”
2015 proved to be an historic year for British Gymnastics with five medals at the World Championships in Glasgow and Claudia believes that much of the success is down to being part of such a tight-knit group.
“I feel as if the British Gymnastics squad are like one big family. We know each other inside-out and if someone’s having a bad day then everyone will be there for that person. There is so much support and, in a way, it’s like having a big group of sisters. Amanda [Reddin] is now our head coach and the work that she has done has been absolutely brilliant.”
Following her breakthrough success in 2014, Claudia suffered an unfortunate foot injury that threatened to keep her out of the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow. However, through hard work and determination, Claudia returned to the squad and made history as part of the first female Great Britain team to win a medal at a World Championships.
“I got injured in one of our trials and didn’t even think I would make the World Championships team so, looking back, 2015 wasn’t too bad! I was able strengthen my foot enough just in time and, overall, I was really proud of my performance!”
In March, Claudia returns to scene of her momentous achievements once more for the 2016 Glasgow World Cup, which is part of UK Sport’s National Lottery funded #EveryRoadtoRio campaign to help athletes qualify and prepare for Rio 2016. Claudia admits that the City now holds a special place in her heart, but the trip will be strictly business as she continues her preparations for Rio.
“Glasgow is an amazing place - every time I go there I seem to do well! I’m really excited to compete there again and hopefully I can continue the success I’ve been lucky to achieve so far! I feel like everything is going really well. My routines are coming together and I’ve been working on my stamina to execute them consistently in a clean way. I feel like I’m on the right path and really looking forward to the exciting year ahead. All of the British girls are trying their hardest to be the best that we can and, although it’s been hard, it’s coming along nicely!”
Claudia may be small in stature, at just four foot six, but her reputation continues to grow year on year. Fragapane has already tasted success at major championships with World, European and Commonwealth medals to her name. However, with Rio already coming in to focus, she is quietly confident of adding Olympic success to that remarkable haul.
“It would be absolutely amazing to come away with a medal at the games. We will go into the competition in the same way that we always do by performing to the best of our ability and showing support for one another – hopefully that will be enough! I feel that, if we hit our routines and continue in the way that we have been, we have a good chance. Fingers crossed it will all work out!"
Claudia Fragapane is one of 1,300 athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery supported World Class Programme.
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