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Monday November 29, 2021

UK gymnast Downie returns ‘burnt out’ but defiant after Olympic heartbreak

By AFP
October 19, 2021

KITAKYUSHU, Japan: Becky Downie said that she was “burnt out” but proud after competing at the world championships in Japan on Monday, following a turbulent year for the British gymnast that included the death of her brother.

The 29-year-old Downie was controversially omitted from Britain’s Tokyo Olympic team this summer, with some wondering if she was being punished for speaking out about bullying. Her non-selection came after her brother had died suddenly playing cricket on the eve of her final trial for the team in May.

Downie eventually appeared in a rescheduled trial on her own in an empty venue, breaking down in tears after finishing one routine. But she made a defiant return to action in Kitakyushu in western Japan, scoring 14.000 in a clean uneven bars routine.

“People don’t understand how much it’s taken just to get to Japan,” said Downie, the 2019 uneven bars world silver medallist. “I just feel really, really burnt out. I wanted to come and compete for myself. I’ve worked for two years and I’ve not had a chance to show any of it.”

Downie, who also competed on the balance beam, scoring 13.333, added that she was “really, really proud” despite feeling “mentally tired”. “Consistency has been up and down — as well as emotions,” she said. Downie and her sister Ellie, also an elite gymnast, spoke out about “an environment of fear and mental abuse” in British gymnastics in July 2020.