By Anna Rose Johnson
Few athletes from Great Britain have enjoyed such success in elite gymnastics as 26-year-old Rebecca “Becky” Downie, from the prestigious Notts Gymnastics Club. Noted for her spectacular uneven bars performances, Becky competed at both the 2008 and 2016 Olympic Games and served as an alternate to the 2012 Olympic team.
She also trains with her younger sister Ellie, who won the 2017 European all-around title. We recently caught up with Becky—who is currently working toward a comeback after a series of injuries—to discuss 2018 Worlds, Tokyo 2020 and more!
Feature Photo Courtesy British Gymnastics
Inside Gymnastics: How is your recovery going after your injuries?
Becky Downie: Recovery has been a little slower than expected since Europeans, which is why I will only be working bars for this year’s Worlds, but I am very excited to be back competing at a major competition.
Inside: How would you describe your 2018 season so far?
Becky: I think 2018 has been one the hardest years of my career so far. So many ups and downs, and it has felt like as soon as I start moving forward, something pops up to hold me back again. I’m hoping I can finish 2018 on a positive note.
Inside: How has your training been going?
Becky: Training has been going really well. I have switched up my training a lot since injuring my elbow last year, and I can really see the benefits now 18 months on.
Inside: Are you looking forward to competing at Worlds?
Becky: I can’t wait to just compete again. I still haven’t competed this bars routine at a major event yet, so I’m really looking forward to just putting the last 18 months [of] hard work into competition.
Inside: What are your goals for the rest of 2018?
Becky: To find all the positives I can from this year and to finish this year on a high note, regardless of how these World Championships turn out for our team and me.
Inside: Does the GBR women’s team have any particular “team goals” in the coming years?
Becky: I don’t think anything too specific. We just want to continue to build our team back, as we have had a really hard time with injuries since Rio. It’s been great to see the younger seniors gain more experience and seeing the confidence grow in their performances over the past year, and everyone’s looking forward to having a full, healthy squad again.
Inside: Are you looking toward Tokyo 2020? Are there any other major “bucket list” competitions you’d like to check off?
Becky: I try not to think about it too much, but it is my long-term goal, yes. There aren’t any other competitions I feel I really want to do now. Overall, I can look back and I feel I’ve had a pretty successful career, and whatever else I can achieve now will be a bonus.
Inside: What are some of your favorite competition memories?
Becky: There are so many!!!
* Making our first team final at the 2007 World Championships was an incredible feeling. I remember lots of happy tears and honestly, for us, it felt like we’d won.
* 2010 [Europeans in Birmingham]. Winning our first European team silver was such an incredible day, and I remember I stuck my vault, bars and beam dismount cold. It was such a fairy-tale day for our team.
* 2014 Europeans in Sofia. The whole trip was incredible; we had such a strong team bond and that really showed. I also won my first European title there, and that is still one of the biggest career highlights for me.
* 2015 World team bronze. It still feels crazy knowing what we achieved together and [being] in front of a home crowd was so special.
Inside: What is it like to train alongside your sister?
Becky: It’s great training with Ellie. We really do get along so well. We just get each other.
Inside: Do you have any advice to other gymnasts facing adversity?
Becky: If you believe you can do it, then you can get through anything. I try to focus on all the positives I can and work hard on what I can still do while I’m injured. I see [injuries] as a bit of a challenge to get as physically fit as I can while I’m [not working on particular] skills, so [that] when I do return, it’s a lot easier for me.
Inside: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Becky: A massive THANK YOU to all my supporters and fans. It honestly means so much when people send messages to say you’ve helped/inspired them and, some days, when you see a video montage someone has put together of you, it really reminds you of how far you’ve come. I don’t think the fans have any idea how much of a positive impact that can have when you are sometimes feeling a bit down, and I want to say a big thank you to them.
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Anna Rose Johnson writes about women’s artistic and rhythmic gymnastics. She loves Whippets, brownies, and full-twisting double layouts. Her writing portfolio can be viewed at: https://annarosejohnson.contently.com