Joe Fraser prepares for the Commonwealth Games where he will target FIVE gymnastics medals
‘There’s no extra pressure, just extra fun’: Local hero Joe Fraser gears up for the Commonwealth Games where he will earn FIVE gymnastics medals and compete in his hometown of Birmingham
- Joe Fraser aims for five gymnastics medals at Commonwealth Games
- He was born just 30 minutes walk from where he will fight
- The 23-year-old won gold on the parallel bars at the 2019 World Cup
Forget about Duran Duran at the opening ceremony, the local hero worth seeing next week is gymnast Joe Fraser.
The 2019 world champion was born just a 30-minute walk from where he will compete in Birmingham 2022.
And Fraser could very well come away from his home Commonwealth Games with more medals than any other Team England athlete.
Joe Fraser aims for five gymnastics medals at Commonwealth Games
At the Arena Birmingham, the 23-year-old is going for gold in the team event and individual all-around, parallel bars and high bar, as well as an outside shot in the pommel horse, with his Olympic champion team-mate Max Whitlock not taking part.
Fraser, who still lives in Edgbaston with his family and trains at the City of Birmingham Gymnastics Club, is usually modest about his chances of claiming up to five gongs.
But as one of the faces and ambassadors of these Games, he will do everything he can to impress in front of his family, friends and all his other associates who ask him for tickets.
“There’s no extra pressure, just extra fun,” Fraser told Sportsmail. “I’m sure if you asked anyone where they wanted to participate, they’d say their hometown.
He was born just a 30 minute walk from where he will participate later this month
“I’ve lived and trained in Birmingham all my life, but I never really get the chance to compete here, so it’s unbelievable. I’m just going to enjoy every moment.
‘The Arena is a great location. I have been there many times. My first time was probably seeing Disney on Ice as a young boy!
“It will be a proud moment for myself and everyone who has been part of the journey to get me where I am today. I will give everything and see what I can achieve.’
Fraser has had his sights set on this summer since 2017, when Birmingham replaced the original host city of Durban, which was stripped of the Games due to financial difficulties.
The 23-year-old won gold on the parallel bars at the 2019 World Cup
“I remember being at the announcement and I couldn’t believe it,” recalls Fraser, who was born with six fingers on each hand and had to undergo surgery when he was three months old to remove the extra digits.
“It drove me to work as hard as I could to try and make these Games because I knew how much it would mean to the city.”
In 2017, Fraser was only 19 and finished his first year in international senior events. He has since won gold on the parallel bars at the 2019 World Championships and competed with Team GB at last year’s Olympics.
But despite his success, Fraser’s entry into Birmingham was at one point in doubt after he returned from Tokyo and had to undergo surgery for an injured shoulder.
Fraser also has European Championship medals in the team event and pommel horse
“They said it would take me six to 12 months to get back to full fitness and of course I had the Commonwealth Games in mind,” he says. “So even making the team is already a huge achievement.”
Fraser proved he is back to full fitness and form by winning gold on the high bar at a World Cup event in Baku in April.
Now he wants to continue to make positive headlines for a sport that has been colored by the recent findings of the Whyte Review, which revealed a systemic culture of physical and emotional abuse in gymnastics.
“It was very important that everyone could talk about their experience in the sport and have a voice,” says Fraser.
“I am sure British Gymnastics will follow the advice and we will come back and become a stronger sport. I want to inspire that next generation to get into the sport and performing at my best in Birmingham will do that.”