Coach cautious over Downie workload

03 March 2012 / 10:00

The coach of Great Britain Olympic gymnast Becky Downie admits she is still very cautious about pushing the Hucknall starlet too much in the build-up to London 2012.

Notts Gymnastics Academy head coach Claire Starkey is keen to avoid Downie picking up any more injuries in the build-up to what will be her second Olympic appearance this summer, if selected.

Downie suffered a ruptured Achilles in 2011 just before the European Championships, but after successful surgery and rehabilitation the 20-year-old bounced back in fine style in Japan in October.

She was part of the GB women’s team that finished fifth in the all-around competition at the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo to book a full quota of gymnasts at London 2012 – with Downie impressing, in particular, on the uneven bars.

But while Starkey is full of praise for the youngster’s ability to fight back, she remains wary and knows another injury is all it takes to scupper Downie’s dreams of competing at a home Olympics.

“She deserves a medal for the way she has fought back from this injury,” Starkey told the Nottingham Post.

“When she got the injury she was obviously devastated but after a few weeks she was focused on the future. She realised how much she missed it because when you watch and are not allowed to do it, it is frustrating.

“It is hard at the moment as well because mentally she wants to do it in training, but there is a fine line between taking a risk, pushing hard and keeping it safe.”

Downie was a 16-year-old rising star when she produced a superb performance in finishing 12th in the women’s individual all-around competition on her Olympic debut at Beijing 2008, which was the highest position by a British female gymnast in history. 

This had followed on from her team silver and bronze in the beam at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne at just 14. Further success came with team silver at the 2010 European Championships, before her injury set-back last year.