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Downie Sisters Team Up For New Challenges in 2014
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IG Online's annual series of holiday-themed features continues with this update from British Olympian Becky Downie and her younger sister, Ellie, who told IG they have similar plans to build on their 2013 successes throughout the new year. Pictured: Becky Downie at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing

IG Online's annual series of holiday-themed features continues with this update from British Olympian Becky Downie and her younger sister, Ellie, who told IG they have similar plans to build on their 2013 successes throughout the new year.

"This year has definitely boosted my confidence for the big competitions next year, for example, Junior Europeans," said the 14-year-old Ellie. "Also, some of my achievements this year have made me realize where I am standing in the sport for my age."

In March, Ellie placed first all-around at the English Junior Championships and third all-around at the British Junior Championships. She placed fourth all-around at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Utrecht in July. Last month she placed third on vault, third on floor exercise and fourth on uneven bars at the Elite Gym Massilia meet in Marseille. Most recently sheshe won bronze medals with the English team and on uneven bars at the World School Games, held Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in Brasilia, Brazil.

Heading into the 2014 season, Ellie is training to upgrade her routines while maintaining their quality. Her goals include not only making the British team for the Junior European Championships in May in Sofia, but winning medals there, too.

"I've been working on some new skills to hopefully compete in my routines next year, to give me the best chance at making every team possible," Ellie said. "But one of my main focuses to stay at the top is to not just compete the new skills in the routines, but compete them well-executed and clean, to give me the highest scores possible."

Ellie Downie (Great Britain)

Ellie and Becky competed together at Elite Gym Massilia, where they helped Great Britain win the team bronze medal. Becky's determination, Ellie said, constantly encourages her.

"Becky inspires me because she never gives up on anything," Ellie said. "She is always pushing to be the best she can be, and is always very motivated. Her achievements are amazing."

During the holiday season, Ellie said she looks forward to spending time with her loved ones.

"My favorite part of the holidays is just relaxing and enjoying myself with my family, before preparing myself for the new year," Ellie said. "Usually on Christmas Day, the whole family opens their presents in the morning, then just sits down and watches TV and films for the rest of the day and enjoys everybody's company, as we're not all together very often."

Becky, who placed 12th all-around at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing but did not qualify for the British team at the 2012 Games in London, said a pair of routines stand out as her proudest achievements in 2013.

"There are probably two performances that mean the most to me," Becky said. "The first was being crowned British bars champion, as it was my first national title since 2009 and I'd worked so hard to prove I was back. It really meant a lot. The second was my bars routine from qualifications at the world championships (in Antwerp). It meant so much to me to finally hit my routine on a world stage and score over 15 (points). It's been something I've worked toward for a very long time, and for it to finally come off was an amazing feeling."

Becky, who will turn 22 next month, said her desire to reach her potential and her passion for the sport are driving her through her third Olympic cycle.

"My motivation is really down to my genuine love for gymnastics," Becky said. "I really do love what I do. After London I took a break, had time to reflect and knew I wasn't ready to give up. Deep down I felt there was still more I could achieve. I wanted to give my ultimate dream one last shot, which is to win an Olympic medal for myself and my country."

Becky, who placed seventh on uneven bars at this spring's Europeans in Moscow and eighth on uneven bars in Antwerp, said she is optimistic about her competitive prospects in the new year.

"I have lots of different goals for 2014, and it has the potential to be a fantastic year," Becky said. "My aims are to consolidate my routines and work hard on my execution to help me achieve the best results possible at hopefully the Europeans, Commonwealth Games and World Championships."

Becky credits the group of coaches at Notts Gymnastics Academy in Nottingham for assuring that their training is comprehensive and cooperative.

"Claire Starkey is our main personal coach who writes our programs, plans routines and so forth, with Ian Kime, Jo Millar and Jemma Wilson all adding their support and extra help," Becky said. "This means we have a whole team behind us at Notts."

Along with Becky's training, she is already well on her way to a promising career as a coach.

"I want to continue my coaching," Becky said. "I'm already a qualified Level 1 coach and I'm 80 percent there with my Level 2. I'd like to keep moving forward through the levels (3-5), with my long-term goal being a High Performance coach. I'd also love to one day do some coaching work with NCAA (U.S. university system), as I gave up my (NCAA) scholarship offers to focus on elite gymnastics."

Like her younger sister, Becky plans to enjoy the holidays close to friends and family.

"I'll be spending Christmas at home with my family, most likely watching movies, eating Christmassy food and really just enjoying time at home with everyone, as that doesn't happen often," Becky said. "For New Year's Eve, I don't have plans yet, but I'll most likely be partying with my friends and enjoying the end of my rest period."

Becky said she is determined to persevere in 2014.

"I don't really do New Year's resolutions, as I never stick to them," Becky told IG. "But I will continue with my mottos to never give up, and dream big!"

International Gymnast magazine's recent coverage of British gymnasts and coaches includes:
"Shooting Star" – Brinn Bevan profile (June 2013)
Imogen Cairns and British men's team on cover photo collage (March 2012)
"No Turning Back Now" – Imogen Cairns profile (January/February 2012)
"10 Questions with Coach Paul Hall" – interview (January/February 2010)
"European Brilliance" - Ruby Harrold interview (September 2013)
Sam Oldham on cover photo collage (July/August 2010)
Sam Oldham interview (June 2010)
"Nervous Purvis" – Daniel Purvis profile (November 2012)
"Pure Purvis" – Daniel Purvis interview (March 2012)
Daniel Purvis cover photo (November 2011)
"Bright for Britain" – Niamh Rippin profile (July/August 2010)
"Sibling Revelry" – Angel and Venus Romaeo profile (September 2010)
"Welsh Wisdom" - Raer Theaker profile (October 2013)
"Divide and Conquer" – Kristian Thomas interview (May 2012)
"The Good Shepherd" – Coach Ed van Hoof interview (April 2013)
"Lord Max" – Max Whitlock interview (June 2013)
"Lilleshall: Backstage in Britain" – cover story on British national program (November 2011)

To subscribe or order back issues, click here.

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