A NEW STAR EMERGES FOR LONDON 2012

Becky Downie portrait
Becky Downie portrait

MEDALS glory could beckon for Hucknall when the greatest sporting show on earth, the Olympic Games, rolls into London next year — and the spotlight won‘t just be focused on athlete Andy Turner.

For while Turner, who grew up in the town, will be gunning for the podium on the track, Hucknall will also be represented in the gymnasium — in the shape of one of the country’s top gymnasts, Becky Downie.

For the Dispatch can reveal that the 19-year-old has been living in Hucknall for the last two years on Poppy Mews, off Nottingham Road.

What’s more, she lives with her 12-year-old sister, Ellie, who is also extremely talented and, as a British junior champion, has her sights on the Olympics in Rio, Brazil in 2016.

But it will be Becky who will be in the limelight in the run-up to the eagerly-anticipated London Games.

After suffering a devastating injury earlier this year when snapping an Achilles tendon that threatened to decimate her season, she is hoping to return to the sort of form she showed when achieving a hat-trick of medals at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and performing admirably at the Olympics in Beijing, China in 2008.

Speaking about the prospect of London 2012, the Notts Gymnastics Academy star said: “I am pretty ft and well at the moment and just coming out of the last part of my rehabilitation.

“Hopefully, now the injury is behind me, I can start concentrating towards London 2012.

“The excitement is already building, and there are more opportunities. It is around you all the time and always in the back of your mind.

“The key is to take it one step at a time and not get ahead of yourself. You’ve got to make sure you get it right every day in the gym.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and nobody wants to blow it.”

As a youngster, Becky studied ballet, tap and stage dance. She switched to gymnastics at the age of seven when she joined the Bigwood club in Top Valley.

At the age of nine, she joined Notts Gymnastics Academy and hasn’t looked back.

Becky won her first British title at 12 and made her international debut a year later.

In 2006, she took two silver medals and a bronze at the Commonwealths in Melbourne, Australia. She is also a two-time all-round British junior champion and two-time senior champion — as well as having several titles in individual apparatus under her belt.

Last month, she helped the British women’s team to eighth place in qualifying at the World Championships in Tokyo, Japan.

The result not only qualified the team for the final at the event but also secured their berth in the team discipline for London 2012.

It marked the end of Becky’s injury hell, and things got even better when the team created history by finishing fifth in the Tokyo showpiece.

Becky’s next major competition is the European Championships in Brussels, Belgium next May.

“All I can do is keep working hard and you never know what is possible,” she said. “The ultimate ambition is to win a medal at the Olympics.”

As for Ellie, she too is a member of the Notts Gymnastics Academy. She started training in the sport for one hour a week at the age of just three.

Ellie won her first British title at the age of nine and is tipped to be a star of the sport on the international stage.