For the third Commonwealth Games in a row England are gold medalists in the men’s team competition, this time triumphing by 13,350 points. It is an outcome that was never in doubt and their success is becoming increasingly predictable but it was a result made even more meaningful by the number of deeply impressive performances from competitors both experienced and new.
No gymnast had a more spectacular day than Joe Fraser. A day before the team final Fraser, who hails from Birmingham, announced that he would not be able to compete in all six events. After undergoing emergency surgery on his ruptured appendix five weeks ago, Fraser worked hard to be ready to compete in the all-around competition, where he would have been the favorite for a gold medal. Instead, despite his efforts, he fractured his right foot two weeks ago.
He dons a medical boot outside competition and each time he stepped off the podium, his limp was significant. Yet somehow Fraser was able to continue training on four different apparatuses, dropping out of only the floor exercise and vault, where constant pounding on the feet is unavoidable.
When the time came for Fraser to perform, despite his dire preparations, he thrived. In the second rotation he opened his day with one of the classiest pieces of gymnastics on show in Birmingham this year, working his way through a smooth, rhythmic and easy pommel horse routine that scored 14,650 for first place.
Fraser followed it up with a spotless routine on rings, scoring 14,450 for second place and sticking the landing on his fractured foot. He repeated the trick as he qualified second on parallel bars, his favorite discipline, and then he also stuck his dismount after an extremely clean high bar routine. At the end of the day Fraser finished in the top two on each of his four apparatuses.
With this session also doubling as qualifying for the individual finals, there were outstanding performances from plenty of others in front of a packed and enthusiastic crowd. After being named as an alternate for Tokyo, the extremely talented 20-year-old Jake Jarman, British champion on floor exercise and vault, soared in his first major championships.
He produced an incredible display of vaulting to register a world-class score of 14.975 and qualify in first place. He also qualified third on floor, laying down the highest difficulty but with room to improve. In all he showed he can be a threat in global competitions on both apparatuses.
Jarman was close behind Eamon Montgomery of Northern Ireland and Giarnni Regini-Moran, the leader, who scored 13,850 despite stepping out of bounds. After qualifying behind Jarman on vault, Regini-Moran finished first on parallel bars. Rounding off the team, the defending rings champion, Courtney Tulloch, qualified first with a score of 14,700, and the ever consistent James Hall led the all-around standings.
In truth England have no competition in the Games as a team. They finished first on every apparatus and, while specific individuals will fight with them for individual medals, the overall standard of gymnastics from other countries drops off considerably. It was not too long ago that England was far from the best team in this competition, and their dominance underlines the continued growth of gymnastics in the country.
The Cyprus team produced an excellent day of performances to secure a bronze medal. Led by Marios Georgiou, who won two individual gold medals in 2018, they were consistent and clean throughout. Canada finished the day with silver.
Earlier in the day the defending pommel horse champion, Rhys McClenaghan of Northern Ireland, qualified for the final in second place, behind Fraser, with a score of 14,350.