Poppy-Grace Stickler reflected on the incredible journey she has been on since taking up gymnastics after the Welsh teen finished fifth in the all-round at Birmingham 2022.
The Cardiff-born 16-year-old produced a consistent display across all four elements for a total score of 50.200 as Australia’s Georgia Godwin clinched gold with 53.550.
England’s Ondine Achampong took silver with a total of 53.000 while Canada’s Emma Spence completed the podium, with home favourite Alice Kinsella missing out on the medals.
And while Stickler felt there were still areas she can improve, she admitted she never expected to be performing on the Commonwealth Games stage when she first took up the sport.
“It feels really good just to look back and reflect on that performance as it was a lot better than yesterday. It’s fantastic out there and the atmosphere is amazing,” she said.
“I definitely think my bars were a lot better than yesterday so that was a plus and there were definitely some more better bits and then some less better bits but I can fix them.
“I started gymnastics when I was six because my sister used to do it so I decided to join and see how it goes but I never imagined I would be on a stage like this.
“It’s just amazing to see how far I have come. I just want to keep pushing and see how far I can get. It will be amazing to go to the next games or maybe the Olympics.
“I have the floor final to come so I’m very excited for that. Floor and vault are probably my strongest pieces and I just can’t wait to get back out there.”
Stickler, who won bronze on the floor at the Artistic British Championships in Liverpool at the end of March, added that the support at the Birmingham Arena only spurred her on.
She added: “It’s great just seeing everyone out there, waving their flags with daffodil heads on and it just feels so good just to look up and see everyone supporting you.
“I’ve got my mum, my dad, my little sister and then my grandparents and my cousins out there so it’s great to look up and see them all screaming and shouting for me.”
Stickler was not the only Welsh gymnast in all-around action, with Cardiff’s Jea Maracha also putting in a solid display to finish 10th after improving on her performance in the team event.
“It was definitely better than yesterday, I was really happy to go clean,” she said.
“For my first Commonwealth Games and being here in Birmingham, it’s just incredible, amazing. It’s almost a home crowd and having people from Wales support us is great.
“A lot of hours, definitely a lot of months and years have gone into preparing for the Games and I’m happy with all that I’ve done. My coaches, my family, my support have all played a role.
“Without them supporting me, this wouldn’t be happening right now. My family are here, my teachers as well, my friends and I’m really grateful to have them here supporting me.
“My PE teacher from Corpus Christi was even here. Her sons are kind of into gymnastics so they wanted to watch it and I’m really grateful for that support.
“The arena is amazing. The atmosphere was great. I really enjoyed every bit of it. I now have the beam final coming up and I can’t wait to show everyone what I’ve got.”
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