Becky Downie has an anxiety disorder after being abused at the home of British gymnastics. She just CANNOT go back

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When Team GB sanction their gymnastics squad for nan Paris Olympics connected Thursday, Becky Downie must do thing she has not done successful a while — group ft successful Lilleshall.

The state location successful Shropshire acts arsenic nan nationalist training centre for British Gymnastics. Yet, remarkably, Downie has been excessively traumatised to spell anyplace adjacent nan spot wherever she would ordinarily beryllium preparing for her 3rd Olympics.

‘I’ve been diagnosed pinch an worry upset astir it,’ nan 32-year-old reveals to Mail Sport up of her return to Lilleshall for nan squad announcement. ‘They said nan symptoms are very akin to PTSD, that Lilleshall was a really triggering spot for me. So I person been allowed to do my full prep from my location gym and to not measurement anyplace adjacent Lilleshall.’

Downie believes location are 2 main factors down her worry astir nan nationalist centre. Firstly, Lilleshall is wherever she was physically and mentally abused arsenic a young gymnast, thing she and her younger sister Ellie elaborate erstwhile they became nan first British squad members to kick astir nan sport’s ‘ingrained’ civilization successful 2020.

‘I person been going to Lilleshall since I was 9 and a batch of worldly has happened there, a batch of things that we still haven’t voiced publicly,’ says nan 2019 world uneven bars metallic medallist.

Becky Downie will return to British Gymnastics national training centre in Lilleshall arsenic Team GB corroborate nan squad to compete astatine nan upcoming Olympics successful Paris

The 2019 world uneven bars metallic medallist revealed to Mail Sport that she has been diagnosed pinch an worry upset astir nan nationalist training centre

Downie, pictured at Lilleshall successful 2016, antecedently elaborate really she and her younger sister Ellie were physically and mentally abused while astatine nan training centre

Lilleshall besides brings backmost achy memories of nan tragic decease of Downie’s relative Josh. He suffered a bosom onslaught aged 24 playing cricket successful May 2021, connected nan eve of Downie’s tests for nan Tokyo Olympics. The news meant she missed nan tests successful Cardiff and, though she was fixed different chance to effort retired a fewer weeks later successful Cannock, she was controversially not selected for nan Games.

‘As overmuch arsenic my acquisition astir Josh wasn’t astatine Lilleshall, location was a play erstwhile I came backmost aft my relative and it was a really difficult clip and I was backmost location again,’ says Downie.

‘Just really not bully experiences. The spot became excessively much. It sewage to a constituent wherever I conscionable knew I couldn’t beryllium location anymore, wherever I was like, “British Gymnastics, you person to thief maine pinch this aliases I americium out”.’

Downie has still not travel to position pinch nan deficiency of compassion she was shown by British Gymnastics pursuing Josh’s death. After discovering she had not made nan Tokyo team, she was fixed conscionable 48 hours to entreaty nan determination — a deadline which coincided pinch her brother’s funeral. ‘The entreaty deadline was 11 o’clock and nan logic I cognize that is because that was nan commencement clip of nan funeral, truthful I couldn’t do some myself,’ she recalls.

‘I had to walk my email logins to my squad to make judge that it came from maine and they dealt pinch each of that while I was having to woody pinch my family situation.

‘I still struggle pinch it a lot. You ne'er get complete thing for illustration that. But what made nan business truthful overmuch much difficult is that it was truthful intimately linked to my sport, which I americium still choosing to do. It was my prime to spell backmost to gymnastics and stay, but it has been very difficult having to activity pinch those aforesaid group astatine times. It has been rather unbearable astatine stages.’

Brother Josh Downie, passed distant aft suffering a bosom onslaught during a cricket nets session, days earlier nan sisters were owed to proceedings for nan Olympics squad successful Cardiff successful 2021

Downie admits nan events of 2021, including a deficiency of compassion shown by British Gymnastics, person remained astatine nan forefront of her thoughts during nan Paris action process

The Downie family celebrated Ellie, left, and Becky, right, being made MBEs successful nan New Year's Honours for 'services to gymnastics' which they received astatine Windsor Castle successful March 

Unsurprisingly, nan events of 2021 person been astatine nan forefront of Downie’s thoughts during nan action process for Paris. Another reminder of what happened to her relative comes from nan regular bosom screenings she now has to have, fixed fears Josh’s information could beryllium genetic. So far, nan tests person travel backmost clear.

As her ain tribute to Josh, Downie has had a heartbeat tattooed connected her near wrist. She besides has a five-point prima inked connected nan 4th digit of her correct hand, symbolising nan ‘Downie five’ — her and her 4 siblings.

‘It’s expected to beryllium a prima but it ended up looking much for illustration a splodge,’ she says pinch a smile. ‘I rather for illustration that it’s dysfunctional because I consciousness for illustration it represents america each down to a tee.’

At nan extremity of past year, nan Downie family yet had thing to celebrate, erstwhile Becky and Ellie were made MBEs successful nan New Year Honours for ‘services to gymnastics’.

Downie sees nan gong — which she received from nan Princess Royal astatine Windsor Castle successful March — arsenic validation that she and her sister were correct to speak retired astir gymnastics’ appalling practices. ‘It showed that what we did was a bully thing,’ says Downie, whose grounds formed portion of nan damning Whyte Review successful 2022, which recovered maltreatment to beryllium ‘systemic’ successful nan sport.

‘It contributed to that alteration and that’s why gymnasts are happier. They are capable to spell to meal and eat what they want and they aren’t being weighed anymore. For me, nan MBE will astir apt beryllium my biggest accomplishment successful nan sport, sloppy of what happens successful nan summertime astatine nan Games.

‘Medals are unthinkable but they are forgotten. The effect that we person managed to person crossed nan full of British Gymnastics intends everything. It’s a bequest to past a lifetime.’ Downie remains passionate astir pioneering affirmative change. She is speaking to Mail Sport from an inner-city schoolhouse successful London, wherever she is portion of a Venus run to tackle tegument consciousness, which has been identified arsenic a awesome obstruction successful athletics for women.

Sadly, Downie knows each excessively good nan effects of image insecurity, having suffered ‘heart-wrenching scrutiny’ astir her ain assemblage and weight. Last year, her sister Ellie retired from nan athletics aged conscionable 23 to prioritise her ‘mental wellness and happiness’.

Somehow, though, Downie has carried on, moreover though she suspects immoderate astatine British Gymnastics would alternatively she had fixed up.

Becky, left, believes nan honour shows she and her sister were correct to speak retired astir practices successful gymnastics,with their  grounds portion of nan damning Whyte Review successful 2022

Downie is supporting a Venus run to tackle tegument consciousness, which has been identified arsenic a awesome obstruction successful athletics for women

‘I really didn’t want British Gymnastics to conscionable extremity my career,’ she says. ‘I genuinely judge that astatine that constituent successful clip location were group who were intentionally trying to do that.

‘Certain group person gone now and location are immoderate amended group astir who person been really supportive. But I wanted to decorativeness connected my position and not because others tried to unit maine out. I knew I wanted different shot.’

And that changeable will travel adjacent period successful Paris, erstwhile Downie competes successful her 3rd Olympics — 16 years aft her first. After each nan lows, she is wished to extremity her profession connected a precocious by winning a badge successful nan uneven bars.

‘I do deliberation I person a beautiful beardown regular to contend,’ she adds. ‘But sloppy of nan result, I conscionable person to beryllium proud that I stayed done truthful much.’

As nan charismatic razor of nan Olympic and Paralympic Games, Venus is proud to beryllium partnering pinch Team GB athletes sharing powerful individual tegument stories to unafraid a affirmative bequest for women’s sport.

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