Gymnastics world champion Fraser hungry for maiden Olympic chance

Parallel bars world champion Joe Fraser is itching to tackle the Olympic stage for the first time after being named in Team GB’s four-man men’s artistic gymnastics squad for this summer’s rescheduled Games.

The 22-year-old will take his seat on the plane alongside double Olympic champion Max Whitlock, and fellow Games debutants Giarnni Regini-Moran and James Hall.

Having won team silver as part of the GB squad at the 2018 Europeans, Fraser truly announced himself to the senior international scene with individual parallel bars gold at the World Championships a year later, becoming the first British gymnast to win a medal in the discipline.

Such momentum was halted by the impending pandemic just a handful of months later, but the Birmingham native - who won European pommel horse bronze on his competition comeback last month - utilised his creative nous to maintain his form and subsequently his bid for Olympic selection.

“I had 13 weeks out of the gym, which was the longest period since I was five years old,” he said.

“It was difficult at first but I managed to put a pommel horse in my parents’ bedroom, and I had a set of rings that I tied around a tree at a reservoir. I did what I could do to keep gymnastics fit, and I reaped the benefits when I finally got back into the gym.

“It took a while to get fully back up to speed, but now we’re here and I just can’t wait for Tokyo. I’m extremely happy and proud to have been selected - it’s been 17 years in the making and I just can’t wait to get out there.”

Inspired by the success of four-time medallist Louis Smith and double gold winner Whitlock in the Olympic arena, Fraser is now preparing himself to line up alongside the latter with hopes of emulating his own triple gold medal haul the last time he represented Team GB at the 2015 European Youth Summer Olympic Festival.

And with Regini-Moran similarly picking up European bronze on the vault in April - his first senior major championship medal - Fraser is confident he and his teammates are ready to catapult the squad to new heights in Japan.

He added: “My earliest Olympic memory is watching Louis win bronze in 2008, and I was able to go out to Rio five years ago as part of Team GB’s ambitions programme.

“Being able to watch the likes of Max and train alongside him has been incredible. He’s got so much experience and he’s helped me develop hugely.

“Guys like him made me believe I could achieve great things if I trained hard, and now - being in a team with Max, Giarnni and James - I can’t wait to see what we achieve in Tokyo.”

Sportsbeat 2021