Joe Fraser: Sky Sports Scholar and gymnastics world champion targets Olympic gold

By Sky Sports News reporter Rebecca Williams

Last Updated: 21/10/2019, 09:52 GMT

Joe Fraser conquered the world in Germany on Sunday
Image: Joe Fraser enjoyed a stunning few days in Germany

Joe Fraser catches up with Sky Sports News reporter Rebecca Williams after his heroics on the world stage.

Until now very few people are likely to have heard of Joe Fraser, but for the last 15 years he has been working tirelessly to make it to the very top of his sport.

Born with six fingers on each hand, Fraser had an operation to remove the extra digits when he was a baby. It was just a few years later that his mother decided to take him to the local gym so that he could burn off excess energy.

Fraser came last in his first international competition, but his steely determination and ambition led him to quickly improve. At school, Fraser says he was teased for doing a "girls' sport", but he insists that never put him off.

And now? He is the youngest gymnastics world champion that Great Britain has ever had.

Joe Fraser

Fraser won Great Britain's first gold medal on the parallel bars at the World Championships in Germany last week.

Competing fourth in the final in Stuttgart, the 20-year-old had the most difficult routine of all the competitors and the Birmingham-born gymnast did not disappoint.

"I am still coming to terms with it," he told Sky Sports News. "You work your entire career to get to world or Olympic kind of level and to have got there and performed the way I did, I couldn't have asked for anything more."

Fraser is a Sky Scholar, a scheme that supports talented young athletes as they develop through their careers. He is offered financial assistance and guidance from mentors and, in return, he has been in to schools to inspire the next generation to follow their dreams by telling his story.

Next up for Fraser is the Olympics in Tokyo and, with less than a year to go, he is starting to train hard. Joe has his sights set on a team medal, but insists every young gymnast's dream is to become Olympic champion.

"It is less than a year away. It is crazy how fast it comes round because it feels like I was a junior yesterday," he told Sky Sports News.

"But to be in the position I am in today, with less than a year to go, I am very happy.

"I know I have so much hard work to do and I know I can achieve so much more. Everything is very positive at the moment so I am just going to keep my head down."

First placed Great Britain's Joe Fraser celebrates on the podium after the parallel bars event of the apparatus finals at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships at the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle in Stuttgart, southern Germany, on October 13, 2019.

Gymnastics is undoubtedly a test of strength and showcase of elegance, but viewers rarely see the reality behind the scenes.

The injuries, the hours spent between the bars or pounding the pommel, the endless trips to the physiotherapist. Fraser had a nasty ankle injury last year which saw him miss the Commonwealth Games.

"I have got my parents and my coach who have always pushed me to be the best person I can be, in the gym and outside the gym," Fraser said.

"They make sure I catch up on the school work I miss when I am on training camps as well."