Deadly Downie sisters could be Team GB poster-girls for Rio Olympics

TEARS IN MOTNPELLIER -- Becky and Ellie Downie celebrate their mdal successes at the European Gymnastics Championships. (PHOTO BY: Sports2Visuals)
TEARS IN MOTNPELLIER -- Becky and Ellie Downie celebrate their mdal successes at the European Gymnastics Championships. (PHOTO BY: Sports2Visuals)

The deadly Downie sisters are being tipped to become the Team GB poster girls for the next Olympic Games after another memorable tournament for the gymnastics girls.

Ellie and Becky returned to their Hucknall home this week, still basking in the glory of their medal-laden performances at the European Championships in Montpellier, France.

Ellie (15) made history as the first British female gymnast to win a medal at a major championships in the all-around event, which embraces all four apparatus disciplines -- vault, bars, beam and floor.

And her bronze was supplemented by two superb silvers for 23-year-old Becky in the individual apparatus finals on bars and beam.

The sisters’ efforts helped the British team to re-write the record books with a bumper haul of eight medals. But just as remarkable was the attention they received from the media, TV and the public.

The Downies are fast turning into household names who could be a marketing dream come the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil.

“Maybe they will take the place of Jessica Ennis!” joked mum Helen, who followed the action in France from the family home on Nottingham Road. “It was all very nervewracking, but I was so proud,” she beamed. “Ellie was amazing. To do what she did was so unexpected. It was fantastic for her.”

Barring accidents or injuries, both Ellie and Becky are sure to be in the Brfitish team on the plane to Rio. Ellie could even be in contention for all-around gold if she maintains her startling rate of progress.

This is only her first season in the senior ranks, so no wonder her historic bronze led to a tearful celebration with Becky.

“It’s ridiculous!” Ellie cried. “I can’t believe what happened. I was maybe hoping to finish in the top ten, so to win a medal is incredible.”

Ellie was in superb form throughout her final, mixing her powerful style of gymnastics with skill and precision. She showed determination and strength on the bars, acrobatic skills on the beam, impressive tumbling on the floor and a trademark double-twist on the vault.

“I’ve never been so nervous going to the vault -- the final piece -- even though it’s my strongest apparatus,” she said. “I knew I was up there with the chance of a medal, so to land safely was a huge relief. I just burst into tears.”

Ellie, who is the European junior vault champion, followed up with fifth place in the individual vault final, and fourth in the bars final.

But two places in front of her on bars was sister Becky, triumphantly bouncing back from an uncertain weekend at the recent British Championships.

Defending her European title from Sofia, Bulgaria a year ago, she produced an exemplary performance in the final. And 24 hours later, a beautifully controlled and precise display won her a second silver in Britain’s best-ever result at a major championships on the beam.

Elated, she said: “I was really pleased because I had a new routine on bars. The judges clearly liked it, but there’s room for improvement, so it was all very positive.

“To take silver on the beam was amazing. I knew it was possible to medal, but I had to stay focussed.

“I really couldn’t have asked for any more at these championships. It’s been an incredible Europeans for the whole GB team, and we’re all so proud of what we have achieved. I’m so happy for everyone.”

Next stop for the Downies and the brilliant British gymnasts is the World Championships at Glasgow in October.