Jake Jarman was a 10-year-old schoolboy when he watched on a big screen as Louis Smith won two medals at the London 2012 Olympics and decided he would dedicate his career to emulating his Huntingdon gymnastics club-mate.
A decade later Jarman stands on the brink of becoming the first English gymnast to claim four golds at the same Commonwealth Games after adding the floor apparatus title to his rapidly-increasing collection in Birmingham on Monday.
The 20-year-old could be joined in his potential quadruple haul by Joe Fraser, who continued to defy a fractured foot as he edged Northern Ireland’s Rhys McClenaghan to clinch the pommel horse title and his second gold of the Games.
“I remember in 2012 we had a big screen up in the gym and I remember watching Louis and thinking, ‘I want to be like that’,” said Jarman, who has already won the team and all-around titles in Birmingham.
“These competitions feel like a huge stepping-stone on that way. I’ve always had Paris 2024 as my main goal in life, and nothing has changed apart from my mentality and my ability to believe in myself a little bit more.”
Jarman rose to the occasion again in the eight-strong floor final, eclipsing his totals in both the team event and the all-around final with a total of 14.666 that could not be surpassed. Team-mate Giarnni Regini-Moran took bronze behind Felix Dolci of Canada.
“It’s a new experience for me – I’ve never had a competition where I’ve done this well,” added Jarman. “I’m just trying to keep the energy high and the good vibes up and the momentum going, because I feel like if I was to sit back and relax I wouldn’t be able to put on these types of performance.”
Fraser, whose build-up was stricken by a ruptured appendix and a fractured foot, made up for his disappointment at having to miss out on the all-around competition by delivering a winning score of 14.833 on pommel.
McClenaghan, who had eclipsed Max Whitlock to win a shock gold on the Gold Coast, saw his hopes of retaining his title evaporate when he slipped during his routine, but his score of 14.133 was still enough to take silver.
Fraser, who said he had had no further negative reactions to his injury, revealed Whitlock, who has opted to miss the Commonwealth Games competition, had inspired his performance: “He sent me a message to say, ‘OMG you legend!’.
“That medal was for Max. A routine in a pommel final is difficult in itself so I’m over the moon to walk away as the champion.”
England won two further gold medals on the first of two days of apparatus finals, as Georgia-Mae Fenton and Courtney Tulloch comfortably retained their women’s uneven bars and men’s rings titles respectively.
Fenton continued her habit of rising to the big occasion as she delivered a 13.9 routine to nudge Australia’s Georgia Godwin, already crowned all-around and vault champion at these Games, into second place.
Afterwards the 21-year-old, who will also compete in the beam final alongside team-mate Alice Kinsella on Tuesday, revealed the secret of her continued success on the apparatus.
“I listen to quite hardcore hip-hop, that gets me in the zone,” said Fenton. “I like to stay within myself and not focus on other things going on.”
Rings specialist Tulloch duly delivered, his final score of 14.4 lower than in qualification but enough to beat Sokratis Pilakouris of Cyprus into silver, with Canada’s Chris Kaji and Fraser just edged out of another medal in fourth place.
Shannon Archer claimed Scotland’s first individual women’s medal in artistic gymnastics as she took bronze in the vault behind Godwin.