Fragapane's long road back to the top is almost complete
Gymnastics Artistic

Fragapane's long road back to the top is almost complete

10 April 2019 / 14:30
The moment Claudia Fragapane fell to the mat, she knew something wasn't quite right.

On the eve of last year's Commonwealth Games, Fragapane was honing her floor routine before heading out to the Gold Coast to defend her four golds.

But as she took off for a tumble, something went pop in the back of her foot and that was that.

Out for over a year with a snapped Achilles tendon, her road to recovery has been long and laborious.

But finally, her time has come and she heads to the European Championships with a spring in her step again.

“I knew it was my Achilles after I sat up and had stopped crying, because it was really sore,” remembers the 21-year-old.

“My coach put her hand onto the back of my foot and asked me to press but I couldn’t because there was nothing there.

“I knew it was major then. I did not want to hear the realisation from the doctors I had snapped my Achilles.

“That was hard to take. I was down for a few weeks. But as I saw improvements, I got better and felt happier.

“It’s overwhelming to be back competing, I’m so happy to be back.

“The last year has been really tough preparing myself physically and mentally to get back to where I was. I could not be happier right now.”

Charting much of her recovery on her Instagram page has been a welcome relief for the youngster – who dominated at Glasgow 2014 in topping the podium four times for Team England at the age of only 16.

Her follower count is now north of 100k and the positive encouragement has been key in her return.

But there is bad news as well.

Her return to action comes at the expense of teammate Kelly Simm, who suffered a fractured metatarsal at the British Championships last month – ruling her out of the action in Szczecin.

It means Fragapance will join Ellie Downie, Amelie Morgan and Alice Kinsella as the squad for the European Championships in Poland.

And the youngster hopes she can support her teammate through her recovery – like the support she received from the squad with her injury.

“Taking Kelly’s place was a case of mixed emotions,” she added.

“I was sad she had hurt herself and I had to step in. We’re really good friends and she has the right mindset to get better.

“Everyone is doing really well. We’re all positive and push each other to be the best we can. We keep up the motivation so when we are here it’s like one big family.”

And Fragapane is confident of success in Poland despite only being called up as a late replacement.

Despite not competing in a major competition for more than 18 months, the last time she did it was a success.

She took bronze on the floor in Montreal as one of two medals for Brits at the 2017 Worlds, which included a gold for Max Whitlock in the pommel horse.

And Fragapane hopes to be in medal contention in Poland later this month, as she looks to better her best-ever European performance of silver in 2015.

“I have always wanted to get a European gold and be the best floor worker,” she added.

“I feel l have the same tumbles as before my injury. It’s the same tumbles as when I got a bronze at the World Championships in 2017.

“I feel I have more experience having gone through a big injury. I want to go out and try my best but if it does not work out then it does not work out.

“This is my first major competition back after a year out and I’m going to give it my all.”

Sportsbeat 2019