Joe Fraser should, by all standards of medical opinion, be seated up front on the couch with his feet up.
It’s only been five weeks since he ruptured his appendix and three since he broke his foot.
Surely he shouldn’t really drive a car, much less engage in dizzying gravity-defying spins.
However, it was going to take more than a second opinion to stop this local boy from appearing in front of his home crowd in Birmingham.
Fraser became world champion in 2019 and was to be one of the faces of these Games, limping around the athletes’ village in a protective air boot was not part of that best-laid plan.
But Fraser put aside excruciating pain to help England defend their team gymnastics title, as Canada and a shocked Cyprus completed the podium.
And his performances have earned him a place in four individual apparatus finals, where he will be the favorite to add a few gold medals to his record against all odds.
“I guess I’m just hardcore, I was determined nothing would stop me from competing here,” he joked.
“After I ruptured my appendix I worked so hard to get back into shape and then I broke my foot, it was probably one of the biggest lows of my career. I felt devastated and really sorry for everyone who supported me and my friends and family who bought tickets to be in the crowd here.
“I thought it wasn’t planned and but the thought of not being here made me prepare. I had all these challenges of adversity but I just had to believe it and I’m really proud of myself .
“Being here as a Commonwealth champion with people I’ve trained with since I was 10, I can’t tell you how it feels.
“This team has never stopped supporting me, they’ve always been there and I couldn’t even have gotten here without them.”
Fraser – who could not compete in the floor or vault disciplines – teamed up with teammates James Hall and Courtney Tulloch from four years ago, as well as Giarnni Regini-Moran and Jake Jarman to land a England team gold medal for the third consecutive Games. .
And they will generate plenty of interest at home in the apparatus finals, with Fraser’s clash against reigning Northern Ireland champion Rhys McClenaghan on pommel horse among the highlights.
“You can’t help but be inspired when you see what Joe has done,” Hall said.
“If at some point when I walk into the gym and I lack motivation, I just need to think about Joe and he makes it happen.”
McClenaghan had been told he would not be able to defend his Commonwealth title after the International Gymnastics Federation ruled the Northern Ireland team could not compete due to Ireland’s previous performances at the global and European levels.
This led to a storm of protests, with the Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland accusing the FIG of having “completely ignored” the Good Friday agreement with its actions.
McClenaghan edged out two-time Olympic champion Max Whitlock on the Gold Coast four years ago and followed that up a few months later by winning the European title in Glasgow.
Now he has Fraser on his way, having posted the best qualifying score for Monday’s final.
“I feel like I can add a full point to my score,” insisted McClenaghan.
“It’s still a bit of a new routine that I’m putting in place and the construction of it has changed over the past few months. I’m glad I’m still able to pull it off from start to finish and it’s is what you want to see.
“I don’t know if I felt any extra pressure, but I still feel a certain level of pressure and I feel that it comes more from myself than from the crowd watching me. I did my job and I am excited for the final.”
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‘Hardcore’ Joe Fraser defies pain to inspire England to team electric gymnastics gold
Source link ‘Hardcore’ Joe Fraser defies pain to inspire England to team electric gymnastics gold