Georgia Godwin of Australia and Georgia-Mae Fenton of Great Britain are two of the most widely respected gymnasts in women’s gymnastics. But one of the things the two share in common (other than their first name) is both are longtime “fan favorites” of the sport despite having barely any gold medals in major, international competition.
The two gymnasts have won numerous gold medals at the domestic level such as the English Championships and British National Championships for Fenton, while in Godwin’s case the Australian National Championships. But prior to the 2022 Commonwealth Games in international competition the pair of gymnasts have struggled to win gold.
Georgia-Mae Fenton has been a competitor at the senior level for six years. In that time she has been formally named to four British teams at the World Championships while also serving as an alternate at the Tokyo Olympics. Fenton has also competed in the World Cup on at least three occasions as well as competing in the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Georgia Godwin has been a competitor at the senior level for ten years. In that time she has recorded numerous appearances at World Championships, World Cups, became an Olympian, and also competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Godwin has also appeared in iconic events such as the American Cup and Jesolo.
Despite the impressive resumes and long careers, the two gymnasts entered the 2022 Commonwealth Games with hardly any career gold medals in senior-international competition. For Fenton, she had just one gold medal which came at the 2018 Commonwealth Games when she won the uneven bars title while representing England.* For Godwin, she previously had won two gold medals in her career which occurred all the way back in 2014 at the Nadia Comaneci Invitational.
*Great Britain does not compete as a full team at the Commonwealth Games. Instead, each administrative region competes as its own team, such as England, Scotland, and the Falkland Islands.
For Fenton, she had gone four years without tasting gold, for Godwin it had been eight years. Despite the lack of success, both Fenton and Godwin have endeared themselves to gymnastics fans. Largely because both have been workhorses for their respective programs and have been at the top level for so long. In recent memory any Australian delegation without Godwin will feel incomplete while in Fenton’s case it was always a given that she would qualify as a National Team member.
But competition after competition, the duo had endure watching other gymnasts take center stage while Fenton and Godwin longed to enjoy that feeling once more.
But at the 2022 Commonwealth Games that moment finally came. Georgia Godwin of Australia and Georgia-Mae Fenton of England would combine to win 4 of 6 possible gold medals. The results were split right down the middle with two gold medals going to each gymnast. Fenton won the first gold medal of her career in a team event while also successfully defending her gold medal on the uneven bars. Godwin won two gold medals and three silver medals, finishing the Commonwealth Games with a medal on all but one event.
The two gymnasts were so successful at the 2022 Commonwealth Games that they each won as many gold medals in this one competition as they had previously won in their entire careers.
After winning her first gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games the television broadcast attempted to conduct an interview with Georgia Godwin. But Godwin was so overcome with emotion that she broke into tears and had to take a pause before she could complete even her first sentence. The reaction perfectly conveyed the feeling an athlete must feel after finally breaking an 8-year gold medal drought.
Godwin and Fenton didn’t just win any competition, but the Commonwealth Games. It is one of the largest Olympic-style sporting events after the Olympics themselves. The 2022 Commonwealth Games featured numerous Olympic stars such as Australia’s Emma McKeon who won seven medals in swimming at the 2021 Olympics. There was also Jamaican sprinter Elaine Thompson-Herah who won three gold medals at the 2021 Olympics while also boasting a career total of six Olympic medals (5 gold, 1 silver).
The 2022 Commonwealth Games are said to have achieved 1.4 million ticket sales and the winners of various events including Godwin herself are receiving national media coverage in their respective countries. For fans of Team England and Team Australia, they will cheer on any athlete in any sport if a gold medal is won for their country. The Commonwealth Games is one of the few events on the calendar that is a major draw for causal fans who don’t usually follow gymnastics year round.
Godwin has received exceptionally favorable coverage with the media taking note of her strong commentary in support of #GymnastAlliance. The media has been quick to highlight Godwin as an example that older athletes can achieve success in women’s gymnastics. Godwin herself is quick to frame her story as an example of how a non-abusive training environment that prioritizes mental health is a winning strategy.
The positive elements of Godwin’s story has allowed her to be featured in major media publications in both Great Britain and Australia. While Fenton hasn’t received as much coverage in mainstream media sources, her success on the uneven bars has certainly solidified Georgia-Mae’s reputation as one of the great bars workers of the current generation.
For two gymnasts who have been denied the spotlight for so long, in one competition they were each able to obtain what has long been overdue. They have doubled the number of gold medals in their trophy case and are receiving the attention they are rightfully owed.