Downie sparkles with title hat-trick in Liverpool

Rio 2016 Olympic finalist Ellie Downie was the leading light at this weekend’s British Gymnastics Championships, and was happy her preparations paid off after taking home a hat-trick of gold medals.

The 17-year-old won her maiden national all-around title at Liverpool’s Echo Arena on Saturday, before picking up gold medals on the vault and bars the following day.

And there was more success for our Team GB Olympians in the men’s event as London 2012 team bronze medallist Sam Oldham won parallel bars gold, with Tbilisi 2015 European Youth Olympic Festival champion Joe Fraser winning his first all-around title on Saturday.

But it was Downie that stole the show, with a commanding performance on Saturday before winning the vault competition by almost a clear point on Sunday.

“It’s been absolutely amazing, I came in pretty prepared and ready, and up for it,” she said.

“Winning the all-around was just amazing, then coming back the next day and winning vault and bars was even better – so I’m really happy with this weekend.

“It’s been a lot of hard work, a lot of fitness and just trying to get back to how I was, but I’ve enjoyed coming back and I’ve been more determined than ever since Rio, working really, really, hard.”

Elsewhere in the women’s competition Downie’s Rio 2016 teammates were also back in action, with Olympic floor bronze medallist Amy Tinkler finishing fourth on the bars, with Claudia Fragapane returning from her Strictly Come Dancing break to take silver on the floor.

But the medals returning to the Downie household do not all belong to Ellie, after big sister Becky picked up bronze on the bars.

In the men’s event Fraser, 18, took all-around glory with James Hall and Dominick Cunningham sharing silver, before adding high bar gold, rings silver, and bronze medals on the vault and parallel bars to his haul from the weekend.

Fraser won a hat-trick of gold medals in Tbilisi two years ago, as well as silver and bronze medals and was making his senior debut at the national championships.

He was also part of the British Olympic Association’s Ambition Programme in Rio last summer which gave athletes and coaches who aspire to compete at Tokyo 2020 the unique opportunity to have an inside experience of an Olympic Games.

“I’m speechless. It’s unbelievable. It’s not something I came in to this competition expecting,” said the City of Birmingham Gymnastics Club member of the all around competition.

“I just wanted to try my new elements and see how they were on the stage and see how I could perform them.

“I started on rings and tried a new strength element. I was quite nervous for that but rings went well. I had a little mistake on parallel bars but I managed to compose myself for the high bar routine.

“Floor went well, and then pommel, I was nervous because I knew what I could do if it all went to plan. I was nervous, but I managed to say on, so I’m so happy.”

Oldham marked his return to full fitness with bronze on the pommel horse and gold in the parallel bars.

Sportsbeat 2017