Gymnast Ellie Downie retires to prioritise 'mental health and happiness'
'It's sad that it's come to this', Ellie Downie told Sports Editor Steve Scott as she announces her announcing her retirement at the age of 23, saying it was time to prioritise her happiness.
Gymnast Ellie Downie has retired from the sport at the age of 23 to prioritise her “mental health and happiness”.
Downie won 12 major medals in her career, including European Championship all-around gold in 2017 and two World Championship bronzes.
Downie told ITV News she was quitting because of the treatment by some of those who run the sport.
"It's sad that it's come to this and I didn't think it would, but ultimately they were having such an impact on my mental health," she said.
"I knew I just needed to be happy and find my happiness again. They were taking that away from me."
In 2020 Downie and her sister Becky went public with allegations of an “environment of fear and mental abuse” at elite levels in their sport, calling for change.
Speaking at the time, Downie said: “From 14 years old I’ve been told to diet consistently. At one time at this age, again after being told I was too heavy, I was told by a nutritionist to provide food diaries of everything that entered my mouth and send daily pictures of me in my underwear to ensure I wasn’t lying.”
She later withdrew from contention for the Tokyo Olympics following the death of her brother Josh, while Becky was overlooked.
Despite choosing to step back from the Tokyo Olympics, Downie believes speaking out about the sport's toxic culture cost her selection for other major competitions.
"The repercussions were quite obvious, even though people told me they didn't have a problem with it, but actions speak louder than words," she said.
She insisted that despite her past experiences, she still loves gymnastics and wants to continue working within the field.
"It's just a shame that some of the people within it don't know how to treat people with respect," Downie said.
British Gymnastics said on Monday: "Ellie has been a tremendous ambassador for the sport and in speaking up about her experiences has been part of helping us reform the sport.
"We've spoken with her in depth and are committed to continuing to do so. She's raised issues...that we are already aware of and are being addressed."
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