Becky Downie 'mystified and saddened' at British gymnastics Olympics snub

Becky (left) and Ellie Downie
Becky and sister Ellie Downie have spoken out about abuse within British gymnastics Credit: PA

Becky Downie has been left broken by the news that she has been left out of the British women’s gymnastics team for next month’s Tokyo Olympics.

The 29-year-old was informed late last month that she had not made the cut for the four-strong team, nor one of three reserve slots.

Downie had been granted an additional chance to make the team after missing the final selection trial last month due to the tragic sudden death of her brother Josh.

The Olympian tweeted a statement that read: "I'm not entirely sure where to begin. Ever since I was a little girl, winning an Olympic gold medal has always been my dream.

"I don't have the words to describe how it feels now not being able to even try.

"Now is not the time, but I have so many questions. None more so than why I was offered an additional trial under such challenging circumstances, given what we all know now.

"Performance aside, first and foremost I'm a human being. I don't think I'll ever truly get over the experience that I endured at the final trial."

She continued: "I'm not sure what will happen in terms of my future, but all I know is that I still love the sport, and I feel like I'm in the form of my life.

"I do know that I don't want to retire like this.

"But for now, I just want to congratulate all those selected. You should all be so proud and I'll be cheering you on from home."

Sources close to the gymnast said she believed she had done enough to justify her place in the team, and was left "mystified and saddened" after being informed to the contrary.

The line-up for the women’s gymnastics team is set to be officially unveiled on Monday afternoon, with Downie’s younger sister Ellie also absent.

Ellie, who withdrew herself from consideration following her brother’s death, tweeted on Monday of her sister’s snub: “I would say it comes as a shock but after how we’ve been treated this year it’s not really.”

Downie’s camp are also aggrieved that the end of 48-hour window for her appeal against the selectors’ decision – which she submitted – coincided with the day of her brother’s funeral.

James Thomas, British Gymnastics performance director, said Becky and Ellie were considered in line with policy, "as with every gymnast".

He said: "Obviously, we recognise that the huge family tragedy around Becky and Ellie's brother passing away and we sent our condolences straight away.

"We felt at the time it happened so close to our original nomination point, that we felt it was the right thing to do, to delay the Olympics selection to really allow Becky the opportunity to finish her trial, like all the other gymnasts."

He continued: "We considered all the information available to us. Becky was considered like all the other gymnasts.

'Becky was considered like all the other gymnasts,' says James Thomas, British Gymnastics performance director

"We felt that the team selected today represents the best opportunity to challenge forward for medals and to perform to the best of the Olympic games."

Downie has battled injuries since she claimed a world silver medal in 2019 and selectors clearly believe there is a better chance of winning an unlikely team medal without her.

Downie expressed her frustration early last month at British Gymnastics’ refusal to allow her to use her favoured brand of equipment for the trials, believing it could count against her.

The subsequent sudden death of her brother put the issue into perspective, but after discussions with the governing body she took up an additional opportunity to prove her worth.

British gymnastics has been under the spotlight for failing to act on athletes' allegations of abuse

In July last year the Downie sisters spoke up about the “environment of fear and mental abuse” at elite levels within the domestic sport, and called for change.

They were just two among a number of top names in the sport to speak about the culture of physical and emotional abuse, intimidation and bullying within British gymnastics that ITV News has covered extensively over the last 12 months.

British Gymnastics were set to give more details about the selection decision at a series of media Zoom calls later on Monday.