Becky and Ellie Downie: Gymnast sisters chasing Olympic glory in Tokyo

Becky Downie and Ellie Downie of Great Britain pose for a photo after the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Team Final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Becky Downie and Ellie Downie of Great Britain pose for a photo after the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Team Final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

For some athletes, the Olympics are a family affair, as siblings, cousins and even spouses chase a single dream. In the first of a new series about Olympic families, Tokyo 2020 take a look at Team GB's Downie sisters, who are both aiming for Olympic glory at this summer's Games. 

The deets

  • Names: Becky and Ellie Downie
  • Relationship: Sisters
  • Country: Great Britain
  • Sport: Artistic gymnastics

In their own words

Becky on Ellie:

- interview with the Hard Way to Success

I'd be a little lost without her

Ellie on Becky:

- interview with the Guardian

You always feel nervous for a team-mate, but when it’s a family member it’s a different kind of emotion, you feel it more

A tale of two sisters

When the Tokyo 2020 gymnastics competition takes place this summer, two sisters from Nottingham, England will each be hoping to bring some shiny souvenirs home from the Games. Becky and Ellie Downie are two of Great Britain's strongest medal hopes in Tokyo, having both won gold medals on the European stage.

There is a seven-year age gap between Becky - the older of the two at 29 - and Ellie, but both share a fierce determination to succeed. Ellie is the 2017 European gymnastics all-around champion, becoming the first athlete from Britain to win the title. For her part, Becky won gold medals at the 2014 and 2016 European Championships in the uneven bars event, while more recently she won a silver medal in the same event at the 2019 World Championships.

Neither athlete is a stranger to the Olympic stage, with Becky finishing 12th in the all-around at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games before making her second appearance at Rio 2016, where she finished 10th in the qualifying round. Ellie finished 13th in the all-around at Rio 2016, despite having fallen badly on her head during a tumbling routine.

Now with Tokyo 2020 less than 100 days away, the two will be looking to take the next steps in their Olympic journeys and medal at the Games.

Tokyo prospects

If the athletes are to succeed in Tokyo, they will need to beat off formidable competition, not least a USA team led by the legendary gymnast, Simone Biles. And the pair have also had to deal with a challenging past year, with their father falling seriously ill from COVID-19 in January 2021 and Great Britain being thrown into strict lockdown.

However, the sisters have continued to train in order to be in peak condition when the Games begin, with Becky recently stating in an interview with womenfitness.net that, "I am still working out 3-4hrs 6 days a week to keep my fitness levels as high as I can."

The Tokyo 2020 artistic gymnastics competition will take place between 24 July and 2 August 2021 in the Ariake Gymnastics Centre.