Downie sisters boost Rio hopes

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Two Hucknall sisters have boosted their Rio Olympic hopes with medals at the European Gymnastics Championships.

Becky and Ellie Downie won gold and silver respectively in Bern, less than two months before Team GB announce their team for this summer’s Olympic Games.

A team silver, added to gold for Becky on the uneven bars and Ellie’s silvers on the vault and floor made for an impressive Great Britain haul in Switzerland.

Mum Helen was watching on proudly from home.

“I didn’t go to this one, I’m saving my pennies for Rio,” she said.

“It’s just lovely to see them succeed, they’ve worked so hard.

“A couple of these medals were unexpected so that was really nice to watch on TV.”

Helen thought that Becky, 24, would get a medal on the bars but knew her eldest daughter was keen to do it the hard way.

“I wasn’t sure if her harder routine would come off,” said Helen.

“I’m made up for her, she’s been trying to put that routine out for quite a while now.

“She came second at the British Championships and second at the Rio test event, she fell both times.

“To do that just before Rio is really good for her confidence.”

And youngster sister Ellie, 16, also had unexpected success.

Her mum said: “I did expect Ellie to get a vault medal, she’s very good at it, but I didn’t expect her to get a floor medal.

“Ellie has wanted to get a floor medal for a long time.

“She did a little fist pump leaving the podium, that was nice to see.”

The girls have just over a month to wait before they learn their Olympic selection fate.

Regardless of the decisions made by selectors, the Downies will be in Brazil.

“I have five kids so it would be too expensive for all of us to go,” she explained.

“We’ve got an apartment out there so my partner and I and Becky and Ellie can go, even if one or both don’t make the team, we’re going to Rio.

“That would be the dream, for them both to make it.

“The atmosphere in the house wouldn’t be too clever if one didn’t make it.

“They’ve just got to stay fit and concentrate on their routines, they have one trial left at Lilleshall.

“We won’t know the team for five weeks but after the weekend we’re hopeful they’ll both go.”

If Ellie does end up wearing her country’s colours in Rio this summer, she might have to offer a word or two of gratitude to her older sister.

Helen said: “We wouldn’t have started if it wasn’t for Becky.

“I’m not sporty and didn’t have any dreams for my kids to be sporty.

“But Becky had a friend who did gymnastics and she nagged and nagged and nagged so I took her along and it all took off from there.”