The Easter weekend was more enjoyable than usual for the sporting Downie household in Hucknall.
For gymnastics sisters Becky and Ellie learned that they had both been picked for the British team in the European Championships, which are to be held in Montpellier, France later this month.
Dobut was cast on their participation because 23-year-old Becky had to withdraw from the recent British Championships with injury worries, while 15-year-old Ellie has only just moved up to the senior ranks.
However, the girls, whose family home is off Nottingham Road, were given a huge vote of confidence by the selectors, who awarded them two of only four places in the women’s team.
Becky, who competed at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, has been given the chance to defend the European uneven bars title she won at Sofia in Bulgaria last year. She is the most experienced member of the squad, having also helped GB to silvers in the team event at both Sofia and when the championships were held in Birmingham in 2010.
Ellie grabs the fourth place in the squad after an impressive senior debut at the British Championships in Liverpool, where she won a bronze medal in the all-around competition, as well as silvers in the apparatus finals on vault and bars.
She also brought home a gold medal from Sofia last year after winning the vault title in the junior section. And she became the first British female gymnast ever to win an all-around medal (bronze) at a European Championships.
“So excited to be competing at my first senior Europeans,” Ellis tweeted to her 4,751 followers on Twitter. “Thankyou for all the lovely messages.”
Ellie and Becky are joined in the women’s team by 17-year-old ‘pocket rocket’ Claudia Fragapane, who took last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow by storm, winning four medals, and by another 15-year-old, Amy Tinkler, of Bishop Auckland, South Durham. Tinkler was crowned all-around champion at her first British Championships.
The Montpellier tournament, which starts next Wednesday (15th April), is followed by the first European Games, being held at Baku, Azerbaijan in June, and then the build-up starts to the all-important 2015 World Championships at Glasgow from 23rd October to 1st November, which acts as a qualifier for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.