Longwell Green’s Olympic gymnast Claudia Fragapane joins the Strictly Come Dancing line-up

claudia f - CopyOlympic gymnast Claudia Fragapane from Longwell Green has been confirmed as the latest star to join the upcoming series of Strictly Come Dancing.

The 18-year-old, who has just competed for Team GB in Rio, will be dancing on the BBC One show alongside other well-known faces including the former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, singers Will Young and Anastasia, BBC Breakfast host Naga Munchetty and the fashion model Daisy Lowe.

The former pupil of The Meadows School in Bitton and St Bernadette’s Catholic Secondary School in Whitchurch has revealed she was inspired to take part by fellow gymnast Louis Smith, who scooped the Glitterball trophy in 2012: “I always watched it when Louis was on. I love the different styles of dancing and the costumes.”

Claudia made history by winning four gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. She also won three successive silvers at the European Championships and was named the BBC’s Young Sports Personality of the Year. She says she is “obviously competitive” in her gymnastics, but doesn’t see herself in the Strictly final: “I just want to go there, enjoy it and challenge myself.”

At just 4ft 7in, she is nicknamed the Pocket Rocket and is hoping there will be a Strictly Pro to match her dimensions: “I don’t have a favourite, but just someone of a similar height so it is easier to dance with them.”

And she says the Strictly judges should pose no problem: “Some are harsher critics than others but I take criticism well.”

The new series begins on Saturday 3rd September.