Ellie and Becky Downie discuss training for Tokyo and tumbling on the tarmac
By Lindsay McCombie
Last Updated: 15/04/20 3:56pm
The Downie sisters discuss with Sky Sports how they're maintaining training for the Olympics at home and how determination and drive is shaping their lockdown period.
The gymnasts, who have 26 World, European and Commonwealth medals between them, are storing all their training equipment in a car boot. They then unload it twice a day onto the driveway so they can start tumbling on the tarmac.
Speaking to Hannah Wilkes on Sky Sports' new show 'Check In', younger sister Ellie first explained more about their training at home in Nottingham.
"All our equipment is too big to keep in the house so it's literally in Becky's car boot," she said. "So we just open up the boot and do it all on the drive."
"We're actually pretty well equipped. We managed to get some equipment from our home gym before it closed," Becky added.
"We've got some floor beams in the hall but everything else is in my car. We're lucky we've got a big drive. The only downside is when it rains."
The double Downies, as they are known, are doing double sessions and are grateful to have each other for support - literally. Gymnastics training often requires physical support from a coach and the sisters are grateful to be able to do that for each other.
"It's nice that we have each other because we can support each other for some stuff. It's really handy," Becky said.
"The hardest thing is keeping disciplined. We're doing two sessions a day, about three to four hours of work. It's hard to keep that going at home because home is usually our chill-out space where we try not to think about training.
"It's really hard some days - the weather's nice and all I want to do is sunbathe! If there's an afternoon where I really don't want to, and I see that Ellie's already outside training I'm like, 'Come on you've got to go and do it!'"
There is extra motivation for 28-year-old Becky. The Tokyo Olympics, which is now due to take place in 2021, is set to be her last.
She made her Team GB debut as a 16-year-old at the 2008 Games, but narrowly missed out on London 2012 after being named as an alternate.
Her youngster sister bought Becky a kitten called Rio - as motivation for the next four years. Both Becky and Ellie qualified for the 2016 Games, finishing fifth in the women's team event, and they hope to compete alongside one another one last time in Japan.
"The biggest thing is going to be managing my body," Becky said of the Olympics' postponement.
"If anything I'm grateful that it has given me a chance to stay doing this for another year because it's going to be hard for me to give it up - I love it so much."
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Let’s hope we can have this feeling at some point this year🤞🏼 So gutted to find out that our British Champs and The Birmingham World Cup have been cancelled! Both competitions that I was gearing up towards but I totally understand the circumstances and the reasoning behind it! Health is wealth, so stay safe everyone and look after your loved ones in this crazy time🙏🏼♥️
But, this period of lockdown will inevitably have an impact on both athletes' peak conditioning. Ellie, who at 20 is eight years younger than her sister, is using visualisation to keep her mind in competition mode.
"I sit down, close my eyes and picture myself doing my routines - in a normal training environment and in a competition environment. A couple of times for each piece."
There's only so much of those routines the duo can put into practice on the drive, though.
"We've got a little beam but it's on concrete so we can't go crazy," Ellie explained. "There are some basic skills we can do safely."
Both gymnastics are well-aware that basic won't be good enough to qualify for the Olympics.
"It's going to really test our discipline and how much we want it," said Becky.
"If we don't keep up this work ethic while we're at home, it will be really hard for us to get back to where we were. For both of us, we've worked too hard to lose that end goal."