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Saturday 24 October 2015

Great British gymnast Claudia Fragapane is enjoying her return to Glasgow for the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships, just over a year after her stunning, four-gold medal haul at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Not only did the Bristol-born athlete deliver a world-class performance on Floor, helping Great Britain’s women’s team into second position behind Russia after the first day of qualification yesterday, today is her 18th birthday.

As it happens, there is a distinct possibility Fragapane’s personal milestone could be marked with cause for further celebration; it coincides with the conclusion of women’s qualification which will confirm whether GB have placed in the top eight nations competing.

Not only does this guarantee entry to the Team Final where World Championships medals are at stakes, it also provides passage to the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.

At the prospect of savouring two momentous occasions during the ‘Worlds’, Fragapane, said: “It’s great to be looking at potentially qualifying for the Olympics on my birthday. We’re just really hoping to stay in that top eight as a team.

“I feel a little bit older but I am really happy I get to spend it with all of my teammates. I have to postpone my celebrations but just until the end of the Championships. I’ll probably go out for a nice meal with my friends and family at home and just enjoy each other’s company.”

And, while admitting that she had not had the chance to open any of her birthday gifts during one of the most demanding events of the year for Britain’s gymnasts, Fragapane revealed that her GB teammates had prepared a special surprise that left a smile on her face.

“I have only got cards so far,” she said. “I got a big one from all of the gym people and they have all signed it, which is lovely.

“But I have had a surprise this morning. I have got balloons and ribbons all over my room and balloons in my bath. There are things everywhere, which is lovely. The girls also used the tape that we use for our hands to write my name and ‘18’ on my room door, which was nice.”

However, Fragapane was not the only young gymnast in jubilant spirits at an energetic SSE Hydro, where a party atmosphere awaits all of those competing.

Eleven-year-old Daisy Morby, a member of Aucterarder Gymnastics Club in Perthshire was given the once-in-a-lifetime privilege of presenting her favourite gymnast with a birthday cake.

Daisy, also a member of one of Scotland’s development squads, was further star-struck when Claudia was joined by her GB teammates Ellie and Becky Downie, Amy Tinkler, Ruby Harrold and Kelly Simm to blow out the candles.

“That was really good,” said Daisy, visibly gobsmacked. “I met Ellie and Becky in Glasgow a few months ago but not Claudia or the others, so it was so cool to give her her birthday cake.”

On the knowledge she’s looking to gain as a member of the lively 2015 World Gymnastics Championships audience, she added: “I’m trying to learn how they perform and how they don’t get nervous. I want to learn how to dance on the floor and how they express themselves because I am not very good at that.

“I just want to do well at gymnastics. I don’t really mind what I achieve but I’d like to go to the Commonwealth Games or something like that in the future.”


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