We're so proud of our Claudia at Olympics and on BBC Strictly

December 05 2016

SHE's achieved amazing success at gymnastics – but it was always Claudia Fragapane's dream to go on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing.

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SHE's achieved amazing success at gymnastics – but it was always Claudia Fragapane's dream to go on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing.

So when a chance meeting at an awards ceremony led to an opportunity, she jumped at it, even though it would mean leaving the Rio Olympics before the closing ceremony.

Claudia, from Longwell Green, and her partner AJ Pritchard  had got through to the 11th week of the competition as the Voice went to print and were hoping to get to the semi finals.

“She has always loved Strictly – when she was a little girl she used to dress up and dance around the room when it was on” said her mum Teresa.

“She has absolutely loved all the glitz and glamour of the show, especially the dresses and make-up, after she has lived in tracksuits for years.”

Claudia's hard work training for gymnastics success – her four golds  at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow was the biggest haul by a female British athlete for 84 years – has stood her in good stead for all the dance practice. She and AJ work on their routines for at least eight hours a day.

“They are both very competitive,” said Teresa. “Claudia's aim was to get to Blackpool and dance in the Tower Ballroom and she achieved that.”

Some Some fans think the judges have not taken  Claudia,19,  and her partner seriously because of their height and have undermarked their routines, especially in the quarter final where their Argentine Tango attracted glowing comments but no perfect 10 scores.

Teresa admits to some disappointment about that, but prefers to focus on the support the pair have received. 

It has been an exciting time for the whole family, including daughters Lorenza, 28, Liliana, 26, Alessia, 12 and Chiara, 10, and grandchildren Matteo, three and Aurelia, one.

Paolo, who owns the Noah's Ark play centre in Brislington, and Teresa, a hairdresser, have been to the live shows at Elstree, returning home at 2.3oam each Sunday.

"It has been challenging but lovely," said Teresa. "The best thing for me has been to see Claudia growing in confidence. She says she wants to give people the message that it doesn't matter how tall you are or how old you are, you can face your fears and follow your dreams."