‘Pocket Rocket’ Claudia announces retirement

Claudia Fragapane, who won four gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, has announced her retirement from competitive gymastics at the age of 26.

Claudia, from Longwell Green, plans to continue coaching and running choreography workshops.

She said: “It feels like the right time. 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. Gymnastics has given me more than I could put into words. I’m excited to continue working in the sport that has made me who I am.”

A spokesman for British Gymnastics said: “Claudia pushed the boundaries of our sport and her impact on gymnastics will go down in history. She is a brilliant ambassador for the sport and we are excited to see the impact she will make as she shifts her focus to supporting the next generation to be their best.”

Claudia, dubbed the Pocket Rocket by commentators, started in the sport at Bristol Hawks in Easton when she was six. She said: “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.”

Claudia, who was named BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year 2014, achieved her Olympics dream when she competed in the Rio games in 2016. A year later, she won a bronze mdeal at the World Championships in Montreal.

She swapped the gym for the ballroom as a contestant on BBC ‘s Strictly Come Dancing, where she reached the semi finals with AJ Pritchard but she returned to her sport and was part of the women’s team that won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Claudia says the support of her parents, Paolo and Teresa, and her four sisters has meant the world to her.
“I feel so lucky to have had them cheering me on, Knowing your family are behind you 100% is a special feeling. ”