Day 7: Becky and Ellie Downie

Here’s the amazing story of two members of one family – born seven years apart – who have overcome intense competition and sibling rivalry to take two of the five spots on the British womens’ team. A huge sigh of relief for Downie mum, Helen!

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It’s 17 year old Ellie’s first shot at Olympic glory, and 24 year old Becky’s second Games. Becky came twelfth in the all around in Beijing, but suffered heartbreak in 2012 when she was only named reserve for the team in London. After ‘being really, really down’ and struggling to return to gymnastics altogether, Ellie tried to cheer up her sister with a cat called ‘Rio’ – with both of their sights set on 2016, Becky fought back to lead Team GB to consecutive historic team performances in both the European and World Championships, alongside her younger sister, and now the girls have lived up to their family cat’s namesake and achieved their Rio dream!

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(with Amy Tinkler, Claudia Fragapane and Ruby Harrold)

Becky’s strongest piece has always been bars and she is in real contention for an Olympic medal, to equal the bronze achieved by Beth Tweddle in 2012 – the first British female gymnast to win a medal at the Olympics – or perhaps even better it! Here’s FloGymnastics’ look at the prospective candidates: Bars 2016. If Becky hits her routine with a 6.9 difficulty she’s in with a real chance! She’s coming into the Games in top form, having won her second European bars title in June, as reigning Commonwealth Games Bars Champion, and her excellent beam work also helped the team to their historic bronze medal at the World Championships in Glasgow last year.

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That World Championships, Becky’s fifth and Ellie’s first, was a particularly special occasion for the sisters. At first it would seem hard to top the 2014 Europeans when both sisters became European champions within hours of each other – Becky on Bars, and Ellie on Vault in the Junior category. Then, came the 2015 Europeans where, competing as seniors against each other for the first time, Becky got medals on both bars and beam, and Ellie put in a fantastic performance to take GB’s first ever bronze all-around at only 15 years of age. But in Glasgow and helped along by a sell-out home crowd, Becky performed well with a great bar set and some solid floors from Claudia Fragapane and Amy Tinkler helped GB move into third place – a historic result, if they could maintain it. However, some uncharacteristic falls, including Becky on beam and Ellie on bars, looked to have ruined their chances. Then, with the last vault of their competition, Ellie pulled out a great double twisting yurchenko and placed Britain in an unassailable position: her reaction is priceless (and check out Helen Potter, Claudia’s coach, in the crowd as well!).

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Ellie is an excellent all-arounder and even though she is unlikely to contend for an individual medal (vault is her strongest apparatus but she hasn’t yet competed an amanar), her performance will be vital if the team is to improve on their sixth place finish from London. She is such a powerful, dynamic floor and beam worker and there is still so much to come from her! Young Sports Personality of the Year in 2015, Ellie has bags of potential and she’s already proven just how impressive she can be when she hits all her routines, winning four medals at the 2014 Youth Olympics and this May she won all four pieces at the FIG World Cup in Croatia; the first time in 40 years for this to happen!

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Make sure to follow all the GB girls on social media to catch up with the latest from Rio as they move into the Olympic village and train in the warm up halls, and here’s THWTS’s Golden Episode of the #doubledownies from 2014.

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2015 Worlds’ Bronze Medalists: Ruby, Kelly Simm, Charlie Fellows, Claudia, Becky, Amy and Ellie. Go Team GB!