Hucknall’s Downie sisters are the cream of the county

GYM SISTERS -- Becky and Ellie Downie.
GYM SISTERS -- Becky and Ellie Downie.

Hucknall’s globetrotting, all-conquering gymnastics sisters, Becky and Ellie Downie, have been showered with fresh accolades.

For they landed two of the top honours at the prestigious 23rd Nottinghamshire Sports Awards on Wednesday night.

International sporting talent in the county was recognised at the annual ceremony, which was organised by Notts County Council and the Sport Nottinghamshire organisation.

And in a celebration of grassroots and professional sports, the Downies, whose family home is off Nottingham Road, Hucknall, stood tall, winning both their categories after memorable years in 2014.

Becky was named sportsperson of the year after her medal-laden heroics at the Commonwealth Games, the European Championships and World Championships.

And 15-year-old rising star Ellie was named junior sportsperson of the year after her success at the European Championships and the Summer Youth Olympic Games.

It was the first time in ten years that athletes from the same sport had won both the senior and junior categories.

Becky’s award was also the perfect birthday present after she turned 23 on Saturday 24th January. She becomes only the second gymnast to win it, following in the footsteps of Sam Oldham.

After receiving her accolade from former Hucknall councillor John Knight (Lab), who is committee chairman for culture at Notts County Council, she tweeted to her 12,700 followers: “Thankyou Sport Nottinghamshire for your continued support. I am proud to be your new sportsperson of the year.”

Becky’s award follows the most successful period yet of her brilliant career. Bouncing back from the heartache of missing out on the London 2012 Olympics, she established herself as one of the best gymnasts in the world.

At the European Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, she became only the second British woman (after Beth Tweddle) to win an individual gold when taking the uneven bars title. She also helped the British women’s senior team to silver.

Her team went one better at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, bagging gold, while Becky herself was again crowned uneven bars champion before finishing an excellent fifth in the discipline at the World Championships in Nanning, China.

A Chinese takeaway was also brought home by younger sister Ellie. For it was in Nanjing, China that she won four medals at the Summer Youth Olympics -- silver in the vault and bronzes in the balance beam, floor exercise and all-round competition.

She made it a superb family celebration at the Euros in Sofia where, competing in the junior section, she won gold in the vault, silver in the team event and bronze in the all-around.

After receiving her award on Wednesday night, Ellie tweeted to her 4,500 followers: “Had a lovely evening and so happy to be named junior sportsperson of the year.”

The same award was won by sister Becky back in 2008, and five previous winners have gone on to become Olympians.

No wonder proud mum Helen is counting down to the days to the next Olympic Games, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, next year when she hopes to see both Becky and Ellie representing Team GB alongside each other.

Other winners at the sports awards included a campaign that is supported by Becky and Ellie, the Active Ashfield Stop Bullying In Sport, which won the sporting project of the year accolade.

And performance coach of the year (for the second time) was Claire Starkey, who is head coach at the Notts Gymnastics Academy in Rushcliffe where Becky and Ellie learned their trade and are still members.

Team of the year were the Nottinghamshire ladies’ Twenty20 cricket side, who have three players in the England squad. And disabled sportsperson of the year was Ashfield-based swimmer Olly Hynd, whose older brother Sam won the same award in 2009.

Said Coun Knight: “We have recognised and celebrated the achievements of so many award-winners and nominees, whose contribution to sport at all levels is truly outstanding. Thanks to all who took time to nominate.”