In this first profile of the British team for Rio (they’ll be coming in alphabetical order) I’m starting with Becky Downie. The only retuning Olympian, Becky was a member of the 2008 Beijing Olympic team, and is still holder of the highest AA finish at an Olympic Games by a British gymnast, thanks to her 12th place finish there.
Between Beijing and London, Becky competed at three world championships, and was part of the silver medal winning team at 2010 Europeans. She was not named to the team for the London Olympics, and to say she was devastated is a huge understatement. Thankfully Becky was able to move on from her disappointment, and chose to continue though, as this last quad has been her most successful yet, and now at 24, she is stronger than ever.
Becky trains at Notts Gymnastics Academy, and is coached by Jo Miller.
2013: Becky made European and World Championships bars finals
2014: Becky was part of the silver medal winning European team, took the European bars title, made the beam final, and won team and bars golds at the Commonwealth Games. Becky was also selected for the world championships team, and made the bars final.
2015: Becky won silver on bars and beam at the European Championships, and was part of the historic bronze medal winning team at the world championships.
2016: This year Becky took the European bars gold again, and qualified for the beam final. She has of course also been named to the Olympic team.
Becky will compete on bars and beam in Rio in both qualification and team finals. Individually, she will be looking to make the bars final, and has a realistic chance of a medal here. The top eight D scores on bars so far through 2016 are as follows:
Fan Yilin China 7.1
Becky Downie GB 6.9
Elizabeth Seitz Germany 6.8
Daria Spiridinova Russia 6.7
San Chunsong China 6.7
Madison Kocian USA 6.7
Sophie Scheder Germany 6.6
Ruby Harrold GB – 6.6
There are then a group of about five gymnasts with 6.4/6.5 D scores. Becky at times uses her slightly less difficult routine to get her into finals, out of a 6.4, she usually scores around a 15.10. The bars competition will be so tough in Rio, that a decision will have to be made as to whether the easier routine will get her to the final, or whether she will have to risk going all out to guarantee her place.
Highest scoring bars routine so far this year:
European championships apparatus final 15.50 (6.9 D, 8.6E)
On beam, Becky is clean, fluid, and confident. This year her top score is 14.80, and she is definitely capable of hitting 15.00 at her best. If she hits everything in her routine, including the W jump after her punch front, she works from a 6.4, and can be very clean. Becky will be counted on in the team final, and although at Europeans she had a difficult outing on this piece, I am sure that in peaking for Rio, she will anchor the team performance confidently, as she has done so many times.
As for a place in the final, well beam is really anyones guess. Becky certainly has the work, the execution, and the potential to get there though should she hit to her best ability in qualifications.
Highest scoring beam so far this year:
British Championships AA 14.80 (6.2 D, 8.6 E)
Huge good luck to Becky in Rio, a fantastic gymnast, and great example of had work, determination, and perseverance absolutely paying off.