Dream come true for Olympic hopeful Francesca

Great Britain's Francesca Jones competes with the Ribbon during the Visa International Gymnastics at the North Greenwich Arena, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday January 17, 2012. See PA story GYMNASTICS London. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
Great Britain's Francesca Jones competes with the Ribbon during the Visa International Gymnastics at the North Greenwich Arena, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday January 17, 2012. See PA story GYMNASTICS London. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

People can cheer for a local athlete at the Olympic Games later this month after a Northamptonshire gymnast was selected for Team GB.

Francesca Jones, 21, from Wellingborough, will represent Great Britain in the individual rhythmic event after being named in the squad.

Speaking from his home in Wellingborough, the former Sir Christopher Hatton School pupil’s dad Colin Jones said: “I am very proud of my daughter.

“This will be her first Olympics and we are all looking forward to it.

“We are all absolutely delighted for her; all the hard work that she has put in over the years has paid off.

“It does make it even more special that she’s going to be performing on her home turf, with all the support that she’s going to get.

“It will just be great to watch her. I would urge all the people from Northamptonshire to get behind her. If you can’t go to see her then watch her on the television. It’s an amazing visual sport to watch.”

Francesca, who competes for Wales because of her father’s roots in Pontypool, described her inclusion in the squad as “a dream come true”.

She said: “To at last be able to call myself a member of Team GB is amazing.

“It was back in September that I began to really focus on the Games after being the top ranked gymnast at the World Championships, and although this meant I was the favourite to be picked, I have never stopped working hard to ensure this was confirmed.

“I can’t even imagine what it is going to be like at the games.The whole atmosphere is going to be crazy for the Team GB athletes and the whole of Britain is going to be so excited. To leave a lasting legacy from these games which inspires people to take up rhythmic gymnastics would be a dream come true for me.”

Francesca’s career started when as a youngster she joined the Nene Valley Rhythmic Gymnastics Club.

Mr Jones added: “She started rhythmic gymnastics when she was nine, but she had been doing artistic gymnastics for a number of years before that so it has been about 12 years. She has always loved it. She has been full-time for the last five years.

“June was a fabulous month because she retained her Welsh title and won a competition in Romania. She has now won seven Welsh titles and six British titles. I think she’s probably the most successful ever British rhythmic gymnast.”

Anne Panter, originally from the Wellingborough area, has also been selected for team GB as she is in the women’s hockey team.

Cllr Paul Bell, leader of Wellingborough Council, said: “It is fantastic news for Wellingborough, especially as we had the rorch relay on Monday and two former Olympians – Anita Neil and Canisus Alcindo – at our torch bearers’ recption.

“I would urge everyone to get behind them and support them, and we will host a civic reception for them afterwards.”