Gymnast Ellie keeps top accolade in the Downie family

QUEEN ELLIE -- Hucknall gymnast Ellie Downie receives her junior sportsperson of the year award from Paralympic fencer Simon Wilson (left) and London 2012 gold medallist Tim Baillie.
QUEEN ELLIE -- Hucknall gymnast Ellie Downie receives her junior sportsperson of the year award from Paralympic fencer Simon Wilson (left) and London 2012 gold medallist Tim Baillie.

A young Hucknall gymnast has landed the same top award that her older sister picked up six years ago.

Now Ellie Downie (14) is hoping to follow in the footsteps of sister Becky -- all the way to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016.

Ellie was named junior sportsperson of the year at the 22nd annual Nottinghamshire Sports Awards this week.

The same accolade was won in 2008 by Becky, who celebrates her 22nd birthday today (Friday).

She made history at the Beijing Olympics that year by bagging what was the highest-ever finish (12th) by a British woman gymnast at the Games.

Both Becky and Ellie, who live on Poppy Mews, off Nottingham Road in Hucknall, now have their sights set on Rio.

About 450 people attended the presentation ceremony for the Nottinghamshire Sports Awards, which are a celebration of grassroots and professional sports.

Ellie was the only winner from Ashfield -- to cap another memorable year in her gymnastics career, which started when she was only six years old.

At the British Championships in Liverpool, Ellie scooped four medals in the junior section, despite an unlucky fall on the beam.

She collected a gold medal in the vault, silvers in the bars and beam and bronze overall.

But the highlight of the year came two months later when called up as a last-minute replacement in the England team for the World School Games in Brazil.

In her first competition on the world stage, Ellie proved her class by winning an individual bronze medal in the bars, finishing fourth on the vault and helping England finish third overall, behind only the home nation and Russia.

Her coach at the Nottingham Gymnastics Academy, Claire Starkey, described Ellie’s performance in Brazil as “fantastic”.

“Her score on the vault was massive and would have earned her a medal at European level,” said Starkey.

“Remember, this was a senior competition, not a junior one, which makes her performance even more impressive. It can only make her more confident.

“I always knew she was good enough to compete at senior level with the rest of the world. Now she has proved it.”

Ellie’s success in 2013 also confirmed that she has fully recovered from an injury she picked up after a prolific 2012 when she won six gold medals, including the overall title, at the UK School Games, plus four medals at the European Championships.

She has been a member of the national squad since 2008 and has made Rio 2016 one of her main targets.

“Rio is far away, but it is definitely a goal I am working towards,” she said.

“I just focus on each competition as it comes.”

The winner of the main Notts award this week -- sportsperson of the year -- was speed-skater Elise Christie, who is hoping to win a medal at the Winter Olympics next month.

Team of the year went to the Nottingham Panthers ice hockey side for the first time, while the club of the year award was won by Collingham Tennis Club.

One of the achievement of the year awards went to West Indian Cavaliers Cricket Club, who won the Notts Premier League title last summer for the ninth time.