ARTISTIC GYMNAST Ellie Downie is looking to emulate her sister Becky by competing at the Rio Olympics in the summer.
The 16-year-old, who took up the sport when she was 7 after attending classes from the age of three, watched her sister compete at the 2008 Olympics and wants to do the same at the competition in Brazil next year.
“I got into artistic gymnastics through my older sister. She started when she was seven and I was always hanging around waiting for her to finish. My mum started me off with classes since I was about 3 or 4 and I just carried on from there,” she explained.
“She could drive and we go in the morning together (to the gym) and come home together at night, which was really handy. She is more like a second coach for me and is always looking out for me.”
Having won four medals at the 2014 youth Olympics, Ellie says she’s hungry for more.
“All I am thinking about is getting on that team,” the teenager said on securing her place on Team GB. “I cannot think of anything else until I get into the team. I want to make the team final for obvious reasons. You just have to take it all in your stride.”
But for now, she is content on being an inspiration for others.
“When you get people on social media saying you are such an inspiration it is bit strange but it is nice to know I am an inspiration to younger kids.”
Last year, Ellie was voted 2015 BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) and said the accolade “still makes me speechless now”.
“There was a lot of emotion because we worked so hard. To then go to SPOTY and get an award was the icing on the cake.”
When asked how much her life has changed since she took up the sport. She added: “I have been a gymnast my whole life. It has been a lot of training since I was very young.
“It has definitely been a different lifestyle to a normal person who just goes to school and moves on to college and university. It’s definitely an exciting lifestyle and I really enjoy it. In the past year my life has definitely changed.”
On how she manages to combine gymnastics with her education she said: “At the moment I am currently taking time out of my education as I am trying to concentrate on the Olympics this year.
“I did my GCSEs last year so I only finished school last year. It was a bit of juggle as to how much time I spent in the school and in the gym.”
The talented gymnast admits that eventually she will return to her education. “ My dream job would be to be a physiotherapist.
“Because we work with a lot with physios, I just find it really interesting that you can identify what is wrong with your body at any time. If that doesn’t happen then I would probably be a gymnastic coach.
WORDS: Ayodele Odumade