Given the misfortune that followed Joe Fraser just weeks before the Commonwealth Games arrived in his home city of Birmingham, merely standing on the podium floor at the beginning of the Games as a competitor was a considerable win.
Five weeks before the Games he ruptured his appendix. Two weeks before them he fractured a foot. He limped into the athletes’ village in a protective boot. ButFraser wanted far more than simply being able to compete and somehow, through the pain, he worked to achieve it. On Monday he became an individual Commonwealth Games champion, winning gold on the pommel horse. He seized his first individual medal by working his way through a smooth, precise and near faultless routine, winning with a score of 14.833.
Fraser’s biggest rival in the pommel horse final was Rhys McClenaghan, Northern Ireland’s defending champion, who had qualified in second place but with significant room to improve his difficulty. McClenaghan, who was initially barred from competing here by the International Gymnastics Federation because they are licensed to compete for Ireland in international competition, is one of the best pommel horse workers in the world. But Fraser had set the bar extremely high, and one significant form break took away McClenaghan’s chances of gold. He recovered to score 14.1 and take the silver medal.
“That medal was for Max [Whitlock],” said Fraser. “I’m really happy for that. To deliver a routine in a Commonwealth finals is difficult in itself, so to walk away as the champion, I’m over the moon.”
Fraser later said that Whitlock, who lost out to McClenaghan at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018, sent him a text saying simply: “OMG, you legend.”
Meanwhile England’s Jake Jarman continued his breakout competition by winning his third gold medal, following up his team and all-around medals with the best floor routine of his career. He outclassed the field with a world-class score of 14.666, far above Felix Dolci of Canada, who scored 14.166 for silver. England’s Giarnni Regini-Moran took bronze.
“I can hands down say that was probably the best routine I’ve done in my career,” said Jarman. “I’ve done a lot of floor qualifications in big competitions and I’ve messed up a few times. To make a final is amazing, to deliver a routine when it really matters, it means so much to me.”
More success followed for England when Georgia-Mae Fenton retained her uneven bars title from 2018, scoring 13.9. On the rings Courtney Tulloch also retained his title, scoring 14.4 to edge out Sokratis Pilakouris of Cyprus by 0.1 point.
In the women’s vault competition Shannon Archer became the first Scottish female gymnast to win a medal at a Commonwealth Games by claiming bronze.