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Hoop of Glory

By Carol Frizelle

Seeking some respite from the UK’s current economic situation I thought I would take the opportunity to share my daughter’s recent success at the 2022 Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham in August.

It was here that my oldest daughter Gemma became the first ever Welsh Rhythmic Gymnast to win a Gold medal with the Hoop at the Commonwealth Games!

This was a huge achievement and something Gemma has worked tirelessly toward since a very young age.


Delivering a routine which shows clean, balanced movements alongside perfect technique is the goal of every gymnast but was something that Gemma had felt less confident in being able to deliver heading into the Games. The interruption of COVID (and the resulting lack of competition) coupled with both injury and nerves did not bode well for her performances or her confidence.

Despite all these difficulties I, of course, knew she could do it!

Her coach would tell me that judges often approached Gemma whilst at competitions overseas and complimented her on how graceful and skilled she was. She was even once told that she might be among the best gymnasts in the world if she could perform consistently clean routines. This was the message we were getting but, at the end of the day, it was only Gemma that could go on to deliver.

As the games approached Gemma suffered a painful spinal injury during an intense training camp in Baku. For several weeks it really was touch and go as to whether she would be able to compete at the Commonwealth Games.  It was such a stressful time for her, having to entertain the idea that all she had trained for and worked towards over the past four years might go to waste.  Thankfully, a team of local specialists were able to support Gemma with her medical condition and just one week before the games, was given the go ahead to compete! I was so thrilled for Gemma but also unsure of how it would go. I believed she was a medal contender under any normal circumstances but given the difficulties surrounding the injury I felt unusually apprehensive as the Games approached.

On day one of the competition Gemma hit the floor clearly meaning business and went on to deliver a series of fantastic routines.  She successfully qualified for the overall Finals and went on to qualify for a further two individual finals on day three (with her best apparatus I may add). Day two had been slightly more difficult and I could see that she was battling pain and suffering from the intensity of her efforts on day one. Despite this she still fought hard and competed well.

On the morning of the individual Finals, I text Gemma, as usual, and simply said:

“You’ve got this!!”

She knew exactly what she needed to do.

I had a positive feeling that morning that she was going to place highly. She went into the day ranked in 5th place, but I simply knew she could do better. Gemma later told me that she too felt confident in being able to secure a medal or, at the very least, place in 4th!

The rest is history.

Gemma came onto the floor and delivered a fantastic routine. I knew it was good, but it wasn’t until the final score appeared that I knew just how good it was. We then had to wait nervously for 5 other gymnasts to compete before learning that she had won the Gold Medal!!!!!

Proudest Mum ever.

[i] https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/commonwealth-games/62442968

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