One of Bristol’s most successful sportspeople of all time has announced her retirement from gymnastics.
Claudia Fragapane, who grew up in Longwell Green and trained at Bristol Hawks Gym in Easton, won four golds at the 2014 Commonwealth Games – becaming England’s most successful Commonwealth Games competitor for 84 years.- and was named BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year that same year.
She represented Team GB at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, taking fifth in the team final, won bronze medal on floor at the 2017 World Championships in Montreal and won the all-around team gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Fragapane also reached a different audience when she competed in Strictly Come Dancing in 2016.
The 26-year-old told British Gymnastics that her retirement “feels like the right time”.
She said: “I’m really happy with my career, gymnastics has been my whole life for as long as I remember, but now I’m ready to flick over a new chapter.
“I started gymnastics at six years old, and from my first session at Bristol Hawks I said ‘I want to go to the Olympics’.
“I don’t think I knew how hard that would be at the time! But I absolutely loved the competitive side of gymnastics, I loved working hard to achieve what I wanted to.
“Once I started to get selected for squads, I just had this hunger to achieve more and more, and be the best I could be.
“Once my heart is set on something, I do everything I can to get there, and I think that’s why I know that now is the right time to hang up my leotard from elite gymnastics.”
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Fragapane added: “The Bristol Hawks team are amazing. There are so many people at the club that have contributed to my career.
“Helen, Rory, Carolyn have played crucial roles in my gymnastics and the whole team at Bristol Hawks have been my supporters from the beginning.
“My coaches have always had my best interest at heart, not just within gymnastics but my whole life, they have been there to support me through it all, and they will continue to do so now that I’m stepping away from the sport.”
Main photo: Claudia Fragapane / Instagram