Ellie Downie – back in the medal hunt

“Gymnastics is getting so much harder”

Elissa Downie of Great Britain (photo by Sarah Baldwin / Gym Stars)

2 March 2019 – European all-around champion in 2017, Ellie Downie of Great Britain then spent over a year recovering from surgery – twice – on her left ankle. She returned to competition at the 2018 world championships, then became British champion in March. In April she won the all-around silver medal and bronze on vault at the European championships. I talked to her about what it took to make a successful comeback.

“It was a hard time for me,” says Ellie of the long period she spent out of competition. “”It was hard to watch competitions I wasn’t in, so I was itching to get back.”

She is keen to stress that rehabilitation after injury is just as hard work as regular training. “You’re still in the gym, two sessions a day. Even when you’re not on your feet, you can always do bars, bike sessions, cardio. It takes a long time. Everyone thinks ‘Ah, you’re injured, you’re on downtime now’, but it’s definitely not like that. It’s more boring than training, so it does get tedious, and you just know you want to be back.”

Ellie’s first surgery was to remove some bone that was floating in her left ankle after injuring two tendons. But after rehab, she found that she was still struggling with the high level moves. “I couldn’t punch the floor hard enough, or get into the angles that I wanted for my floor tumbles or vault,” she explains. 

Further investigation revealed that her foot had not healed properly and she needed a second surgery to correct it. This was a disappointing setback, but with the support of her older sister (top British gymnast Becky) she found the determination to overcome it.

“We both had injuries at the same time,” says Ellie. “Obviously injury’s the worst thing that can happen, so we just try to keep each other positive and motivated.”

The difficulty levels of elite gymnastics puts a pounding on the body and there are several top gymnasts currently in rehab from surgery, or recently recovered from serious injuries. “I think gymnastics is getting so much harder,” says Ellie. “It’s just getting crazy now.”

Some think this is because the top star, Simone Biles, is so far ahead of the rest of the world in terms of difficulty, that everyone else is trying to keep up with her. Ellie agrees it could be the case.   

“She’s just superhuman, she doesn’t seem to get a lot of injuries, and she’s so strong,” Ellie says. “I think people are trying to keep up with that. She’s super talented, with a really fit little body, and she makes gymnastics look easy.”

Amelie Morgan – 2019 English champion

“I’m absolutely over the moon!”

Amelie Morgan of England & Great Britain (photo copyright Sarah Baldwin/Gym Stars)

2nd March 2019 –  In her first year as a senior (she turns 16 in May) Amelie Morgan was delighted to win the English all-around title, which makes her a top prospect for the British championships coming up this weekend. I spoke to her after her win.

Continue reading “Amelie Morgan – 2019 English champion”

Battle of the rings: Eleftherios Petrounias versus Courtney Tulloch

Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece (Photo courtesy Glasgow 2018 via Getty Images)
Courtney Tulloch of Great Britain (Photo courtesy Glasgow 2018 via Getty Images)

“every year I see a new Courtney” (Elefterious)

8th August 2018 – One of the toughest apparatus for male gymnasts is undoubtedly the rings, where they must combine brute strength with poise and artistry. One gymnast reigns supreme here: Olympic, twice world and three times European champion, Eleftherios Petrounias. Aged 27, he is aiming for his fourth consecutive European rings title in Glasgow. However, he faces a strong challenge from 22-year-old Courtney Tulloch. I spoke to them both before the rings final at the 2018 European championships.

Continue reading “Battle of the rings: Eleftherios Petrounias versus Courtney Tulloch”