Fragapane’s long road to the top is almost complete
The moment Claudia Fragapane fell to the mat, she knew something was wrong.
On the eve of last year’s Commonwealth Games, Fragapane honed her court performance before heading to the Gold Coast to defend her four gold medals.
But as she took off to fall, something shot her in the foot and that was it. She has not played for over a year due to a torn Achilles tendon, her road to recovery was long and arduous.
But finally her time has come and she is going to the European Championships again in the spring.
“I knew it was my Achilles tendon when I sat down and stopped crying because it was really sore,” recalls the 21-year-old.
“My trainer put her hand on the back of my foot and asked me to push, but I couldn’t because there was nothing there.
“I knew then that it was something serious. I didn’t want to hear from the doctors that I had broken my Achilles tendon.
“It was hard to bear. I was down there for a few weeks. But when I saw improvement, I felt better and felt happier.
“Coming back to competition is overwhelming, I’m very happy to be back.
“The last year has been really tough getting ready physically and mentally to get back to where I was. I couldn’t be happier now.”
Charting her recovery on her Instagram page was a welcome relief for the youngster – who dominated Glasgow 2014, finishing first on the podium four times for England aged just 16.
Her follower count is now north of 100,000 and the positive encouragement was the key to her comeback.
But there’s also bad news.
Her return to the game comes at the expense of teammate Kelly Simm, who suffered a metatarsal fracture at the British Championships last month, which ruled her out of action in Szczecin.
This means that Fragapance will join Ellie Downie, Amelie Morgan and Alice Kinsella as the team for the European Championships in Poland.
And the youngster hopes she will be able to support her teammate during his recovery – much like the support she received from the team after the injury.
“Taking Kelly’s place was a case of mixed emotions,” she added.
“I was sad that she got hurt and I had to step in. We’re really good friends and she has the right attitude to get better.
“Everyone is doing really well. We are all positive and push each other to give our best. We keep motivated so when we’re here it feels like one big family.
And Fragapane is sure of success in Poland, even though he was called up only as a late replacement.
Despite not having competed in a major competition for over 18 months, the last time she did so was a success.
She won bronze on the floor in Montreal as one of two medals for the British at the 2017 World Championships, including gold for Max Whitlock on the pommel horse.
And Fragapane is hoping to challenge for medals in Poland later this month as she looks to improve on her best-ever silver performance in Europe in 2015.
“I’ve always wanted to win European gold and be the best floor worker,” she added.
“I feel like I have the same falls as before the injury. These are the same falls as when I won bronze at the 2017 World Championships.
“I feel like I have more experience because I’ve been through a serious injury. I want to go out and do my best, but if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.
“This is my first big competition after a year off and I will give it my all.”
Sports Rhythm 2019