Downie sisters on the gymnastics medal trail

LIVER BIRDS -- Becky (left) and Ellie Downie with their trophies and medals after a weekend to remember at the British Gymnastics Championships in Liverpool.
LIVER BIRDS -- Becky (left) and Ellie Downie with their trophies and medals after a weekend to remember at the British Gymnastics Championships in Liverpool.

FURY over her snub for the London 2012 Olympic Games has been channelled into a golden comeback by Hucknall gymnast Becky Downie.

And her younger sister, Ellie, has scooped more medals to keep her on target for the next Olympics at Rio De Janeiro in 2016.

It all added up to a spectacular weekend at the British Gymnastics Championships for the Downie sisters, who live with their mum, Helen, on Poppy Mews, off Nottingham Road in Hucknall.

Becky (21) was publicly very diplomatic about the selectors’ decision not to choose her for the Great Britain team in London and wished her teammates all the best.

Privately, she was seething. OK, she had been plagued by an Achilles tendon injury for more than a year. But after all, she had made history at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 by finishing as high as 12th all round (the best-ever performance by a British woman at the Games) and surely deserved better than to be named a reserve

Determined to prove the selectors wrong, Becky started her comeback trail by taking in just the one discipline in the senior section of last weekend’s tournament at The Echo Arena in Liverpool.

And she stormed to a gold medal in the bars, performing a highly complex routine and some extremely difficult skills.

She beat into second place the all-round champion, 15-year-old sensation Gabby Jupp, from Hertfordshire. Now Becky has regained her place in the GB team and is off to Austria to compete in an international meet next week.

“Becky was fighting fit and wanted to prove a point,” said her coach, Claire Starkey.

“She was very angry at not being selected for the Olympics.”

Becky herself expressed her delight on Twitter, where she has more than 8,000 followers.

“British bars champion and still room for improvement,” she tweeted. “Couldn’t have asked for a much better weekend.”

Becky’s performance also proved she has lost none of the hunger for success that initially surfaced when she won her first British title at the age of 12.

In all, she has been all-round British champion four times (senior and junior) and taken several British titles in the individual disciplines.

She also won three medals at the Commonweath Games in Melbourne, Australia in 2006 and was part of the British team that bagged a silver medal at the 2010 European Championships.

Following in her footsteps is 13-year-old sister Ellie, who enjoyed a prolific weekend in Liverpool, scooping four medals in the junior section.

She was third in the all-round listing but pocketed a gold medal in the vault, plus silvers in the bars and beam.

It confirmed that she has also fully recovered from an injury she picked up after landing six gold medals, including the all-round title, at the UK School Games last year, plus four medals at the European Championships.

Like Becky, Ellie is a member of the Notts School of Gymnastics and is coached by Starkey.

She is part of the junior national squad and very much eligible for Rio in three years’ time.

“Rio is far away, but it is definitely a goal I’m working towards,” said Ellie. “I just focus on each competition as it comes.

“There were some really good routines at Liverpool. My vault was good and I was happy with my new bars dismount.

“A fall on the beam set me back. But overall I’m happy and It set up the year well, especially with the European Youth Olympic Festival coming up.”

ALSO at the Liverpool championships, one of the Downie sisters’ Notts colleagues, Niamh Rippin (18), won the bronze medal in the senior all-round competition, plus gold in the vault.

And fellow Hucknall gymnast Katy Bramley (15) marked her debut at the event by finishing a creditable 26th in the senior section on her return from an elbow injury.