LAURA Halford hardly expected one medal from the Commonwealth Games let alone three – but she insists she must capitalise on her surprise success as quickly as possible.
Halford enjoyed three glorious days in the rhythmic gymnastics arena at the Hydro in Glasgow, first winning team silver with Wales and then claiming double bronze individually.
The 18-year-old was third in the individual all-around final a day after her team success on Thursday and then on Saturday managed to claw another bronze in the individual ball final.
Halford competed in three finals on the closing day – also fifth in the hoop and eighth in the ribbon – and she now wants her medal haul to mean something to others as well her as herself.
“I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like going back home,” she said. “I hope lots of new children are inspired to train and start rhythmic gymnastics.
“It is not a popular sport at all so for more people to get interested in it is amazing. It was just really great.
“I was pleased just to get to the finals and to get a medal in the ball was just incredible. It’s hard to put into words how amazing this experience has been.
“I’ve exceeded all my expectations. I now know that I can compete in these huge arenas and in front of the big crowds.
“And that gives me so much confidence for the future, the whole Games for me and Team Wales has been incredible.”
Indeed as of Sunday morning rhythmic gymnastics had contributed eight of Wales’s medals so far at these Commonwealth Games – Halford with two individually, Frankie Jones with five and also their team success.
Jones, flagbearer for Wales during the opening ceremony on Wednesday, claimed gold in the ribbon final in which Halford finished eighth and there was nothing but pride from teammate to teammate.
“I am just so proud of her. She’s been training with me for two years and she has been through so much,” Halford added.
“She’s so pleased just to be at these Games so for her to do so well is just incredible. She’s inspiring so many younger children and she’s inspiring me as well.”