Olympic Dreams: 'Veteran' gymnast Downie still hungry

Becky Downie of Great Britain. Photo: Getty Images
Downie finished 12th in the all-around competition at the Beijing Olympics

Britain's highest placed all-around gymnast at an Olympics says she still has a burning desire to represent her country at London 2012.

Nottingham's Becky Downie, who finished 12th in Beijing in 2008, said training was getting harder but the results were more rewarding.

"In the gymnastics world I am pretty old now. It's a lot more difficult on the body," said the 19-year-old.

"But the excitement of an Olympic Games never changes and I'm working really hard and hopefully everything will fall into place."

Downie works up to 30 hours a week at the Notts Gymnastics Academy, based at Rushcliffe Leisure Centre.

She has won seven British all-around titles and two Commonwealth Games medals and was part of the GB Team who took silver at the European Championships in 2010.

But the gymnast struggled with expectations after Beijing and coach Claire Starkey said it took time to convince her that it did not matter what people thought.

"We did a few competitions and she got quite upset that she couldn't quite perform like she did at the Olympics," said Starkey.

"The expectation after the big result was quite difficult.

"Now she is that bit older, she's got that experience," she said.

Downie is one of only three female gymnasts based at the East Midlands Gymnastics Centre who have reached the qualifying standard to represent Team GB.

Along with Niamh Rippin, 17, and Billie MacKenzie, 14, she is part of a squad of 14 gymnasts in the running for a place at London 2012.

"The standard of gymnastics has gone up a huge amount," said Downie.

"At Beijing I didn't feel the pressure, my body was younger and everything just fell into place.

"Now there are a lot more bumps on the road we have to try and get over.

"If I make it to 2012 it'll be a lot more satisfying than Beijing."

Downie is one of BBC Radio Nottingham's featured athletes as part of 'Olympic Dreams' in the build-up to London 2012.