Picture by 2021 Getty Images

World champ Joe Fraser opens up on the emotional journey gymnasts take that the younger generation don't always see

Birmingham-born Joe Fraser become the first British gymnastic to ever win world championship gold on the parallel bars when he took the title in 2019. Now he has his sights set on Tokyo as he opens up about dealing with emotions and mistakes.  
By Courtney Hill

When Joe Fraser was 13 years old, he had the Olympic rings shaved into the side of his head as he watched the London 2012 Opening Ceremony unfold.

Now 22, Fraser has been selected to represent Great Britain in gymnastics at the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021.

Having picked up gold on parallel bars at the 2019 World Championships, the Birmingham-born gymnast made a point of enjoying the final as much as he could.

“We train so hard day in, day out, to get to those pinnacle moments and if we don’t enjoy them then it’s kind of a waste,” he told the Olympic Channel podcast.

“Becoming World Champion with the team being down there with me was incredible.”

Joe Fraser on dealing with emotions

Where there are competitions, pressure soon follows.

For Fraser, it is about being able to find the right balance – knowing when to focus or when to zone out.

But he believes that when others see gymnastics on the television, when athletes are polished and at their best, it does not show the full truth of the emotional journey gymnasts go on throughout their career.

“Growing up, you only ever see gymnastics on the telly when it’s major events, so young kids only ever see it when these gymnasts have trained for years and years and are at their best,” he said.

“They don’t really get to see people making mistakes often – I feel like it’s important that I tell people that I do fall off regularly, I make mistakes, I find it hard, I cry, I go through it, so they do think that these people are human, not robots." - Joe Fraser to Olympics.com

“And they can do it, they just have to work hard, and I think it’s important to give that back to the next generation.”

Looking forward to Tokyo with Team GB

With expectations for the Olympics high following his world title, Fraser insists that he is taking preparations one day at a time and not looking too far into the future.

“Since then [World Championships] I’ve had some to reflect and just think about the best way I can be myself as a gymnast rather than trying to be the best person in the world and being the Olympic champion.”

And with the support of his family, friends, and team, he’s positive going into his first Games.

“We all know that, if we perform the way we train, that great things can happen.”

Being amongst the people he has admired throughout his career is also proving to be that extra bit of motivation for Fraser.

“It’s spurred me on over the last 18 months and made me want to achieve more, made routines harder, and work on elements to make it cleaner.

“I’m very excited for Tokyo and seeing what we actually can do out there.”