Hucknall gymnastics star Ellie Downie announces her retirement at 23

Hucknall gymnastics star Ellie Downie has announced her retirement from the sport at the age of 23 in order to prioritise her 'mental health and happiness'.
Ellie Downie - end of glittering gymnastics career.Ellie Downie - end of glittering gymnastics career.
Ellie Downie - end of glittering gymnastics career.

Ellie, who competed alongside older sister Becky for Great Britian, won 12 medals in her glittering senior career, including a historic all-round European Championship gold in 2017.

She said she made the decision with a 'heavy heart and an array of emotions'.

“After a really tough last few years I've made the decision to prioritise my mental health and happiness,” said the 2016 Olympian.

“Gymnastics has been my life for as long as I can remember and I am proud of everything I was fortunate enough to achieve.

“Competing and winning medals for Great Britain has meant everything and more to me and I'll miss it enormously.”

Downie finished 13th in the all-around at the 2016 Olympics despite falling badly on her head during a tumbling routine.

She then became the first British gymnast to win all-around gold at a major international championship with victory at the European Championships the following year.

However, she has had tough times too and took time out from the sport after she lost her brother Josh in 2021 when he suffered a heart attack during cricket training and so she did not go to the delayed Tokyo Olympics.

In 2020, Downie and her sister Becky said abusive behaviour in gymnastics was 'ingrained' and 'completely normalised'.

Ellie said that she had been made to feel 'ashamed' of her weight for almost her entire career.

“From 14 years old I’ve been told to diet constantly,” she said. “This never-ending focus on my weight has left deep scars which will never be healed, I suspect.

“After a deep emotional battle, I’ve finally found a place to be happy with my body outside of the gym, but I’ll always feel overweight whenever I’m in a gymnastics setting.

“We’ve seen too many girls descend into eating disorders and mental health problems because of this, and while this is changing, there is still a culture of less is best.”

Last year, the Whyte review found systemic abuse in the sport in Britain.

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