Ellie Downie admitted she had to pinch herself in amazement after shining on the opening day of her first ever European Gymnastics Championships.
The British squad had plenty of reasons to smile during the first day of action in Montpellier, France, as the women’s squad landed a maximum possible ten final spots.
But there was no doubting who the star of the show was, 15-year-old Downie, making her senior major Championships debut, putting in an outstanding performance in the first qualifying round of the all-around discipline to finish third with a personal-best score of 56.190.
She will be joined in Friday’s final by Commonwealth Games star Claudia Fragapane, who placed fifth scoring 55.031.
Fragapane will have a busy weekend ahead, having qualified for the floor, beam and vault finals, while Downie will join her in the vault, as well as competing in the bars final alongside her elder sister Becky – who progressed to the beam final as well.
British champion Amy Tinkler made it to the floor final after an impressive third place, but missed out on a spot in the all-around final despite qualifying with the sixth-highest score – with each country only allowed two finalists per discipline.
The results mean Team GB will have the maximum of two girls in every final, and a teary-eyed Downie reflected on a superb day for the squad.
“I’m absolutely over the moon,” she said. “I really never expected that at all.
“My first senior championships and my personal best score – it’s amazing! I felt some nerves especially going on to beam but I managed to fight through.
“The whole competition couldn’t have gone much better and has given me so much confidence, I really can’t believe it!”
Fragapane added: “I’m happy overall but know there is room for improvement from this going in to the final.
“I think I just had a bit too much adrenaline and that’s why I had some small errors, I know I can work on those and hope for even better in the final but overall im happy to have got though and looking forward to the next few days.”
© Sportsbeat 2015