As a website for fans by fans, we know how exciting it is when we get to attend a competition. Whether it’s a J.O. invitational or a major international meet, there’s always something thrilling about walking into a high school gym, a conference center, or a huge arena to see the athletes up close and personal. Even though you ultimately end up leaving covered in a layer of chalk dust, there’s nothing better for a fan than experiencing a meet in person.
We welcome gym nerd Beth Fraser, who attended the 2014 Commonwealth Games, as our very first “Diary of a Gym Nerd” correspondent. You know what happened already, but seeing it from the perspective of another fan is a whole other story.
Diary of a Gym Nerd: 2014 Commonwealth Games
On Tuesday 29th July, I was lucky enough to get to see some of the individual qualification and team finals of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. This was only the second major competition I’d ever been to after last year’s Glasgow World Cup in December, and I had a brilliant time! I’d recommend that anyone who gets the change to see live gymnastics takes advantage of the opportunity.
Here are a few of my highlights:
- Seeing the Glasgow SSE Hydro, which is the venue for next year’s World Championships. I’m hoping to be able to go to Worlds, but even if I don’t it’s great to have been to the arena for a competition. It’s the perfect venue for this sport, with a good view all the way around, even if you’re sitting quite far back. With a full crowd it’s a great atmosphere in there too.
- Olympian spotting! Over to the right of me was the BBC presenter’s box, occupied by none other than Beth Tweddle! She was too far away to get a decent picture, but it was definitely her. Fangirling all over the place.
- The massive support for the home team. Scotland’s women were up first and while their routines didn’t have the highest level of difficulty, the crowd went wild after every performance. I’ve never heard such big cheers for a double tuck on floor!
- Explaining some of the rules to a slightly confused couple sitting next to me, who had no idea what a ‘good’ score would be, or why a bell rang during beam. I may have turned a little red because it became clear I was a bit of a huge gym nerd…
- England! I’m a huge British Gymnastics fan, and on the women’s side almost all of their top gymnasts were competing for the English team. It felt a bit surreal seeing all of these girls that I’ve watched on a screen for months or years in the flesh!
- The moment when after Ruby Harrold‘s floor routine, the stadium music changed to ‘Ruby’ by The Killers! Good job, DJ.
- CLAUDIA FRAGAPANE ON FLOOR. I can’t explain how amazing this was in person. Definitely the standout routine of the day – even the people in the crowd with a limited understanding of gymnastics seemed to understand that this was something special. I already loved this routine and this was the best I’ve ever seen her perform it. I think she could be the next big thing for the British women’s team, a real rising star. Plus it sealed the English team’s gold medal for them, even if that wasn’t definite at the time.
- Lauren Mitchell being the classy badass that she is. She has so much charisma in her dancing, and you can tell how experienced she is from her poise and confidence. The Australian team’s leotards were my favourite too, with just the right amount of sparkle.
- Seeing the behind the camera stuff that wouldn’t normally get shown in a broadcast – like Ellie Black collecting up all the hair clips that she’d shedded during floor, or Olivia Vivian (what a character!) leading the crowd in an ‘Ozzy Ozzy Ozzy! Oy Oy Oy!’ after the medal ceremonies.
- Huge success for the home nations! Not only did England win the gold medals in both the men’s and women’s team finals, Scotland’s men got the silver and Wales’ women did fantastically to claim bronze. To me this shows the huge progress in the British training programme since they found out London would host the 2012 Olympics about a decade ago. I’d argue that if they keep going the way they’re going, it might not be long until the ‘Big Four’ becomes the ‘Big Five’.
- Finally, I was thrilled to see the medal ceremonies – featuring a tearful Ruby Harrold – and get to see the English and Scottish men. I nearly cried when Sam Oldham, who’d injured his ankle on vault earlier in the day, was carried up to the podium by his teammates. Kerri Strug moment much? The teams both walked really near to where I was sitting to go and get their photographs taken, and I swear my future husband Max Whitlock waved right at me. Sigh.
Overall I had a super fun day, getting to see some big stars and some amazing gymnastics. I’m pretty sure my purse is going to be feeling a lot lighter soon, because I’ve totally got the gym bug!
Article by Beth Fraser