Gymnastics is a grueling sport, but Ellie and Becky Downie are fierce and strong, and a rare phenomenon — the sisters from Great Britain both managed to make it to the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Not only are they formidable athletes, but the sisters, 17 and 24, respectively, are the best of friends. Both of them have faced setbacks and emotional turmoil in their impressive gymnastics careers, but the Downies are always there to lift each other up. Becky and Ellie, who grew up in Nottingham, England, are part of one of the strongest gymnastics team that Great Britain has ever sent to the Olympics, and their sisterly bond has carried them through the experience.
On Sunday, when Ellie suffered a terrifying fall during her floor exercise and injured her neck, Becky was there along with her, as she has been for all of her gymnastics career. There has to be no better way to make it to the Olympics than with your sister and your best friend by your side, especially when you have to overcome such difficulty. And the Downies have been leaning on each other for support and strength all throughout their careers and lives, and a good sisterly bond is better than any Olympic medal (or at least, just as good).
They Are Best Friends Despite Their Age Difference
Their Instagrams are enough to prove that Ellie and Becky are BFFs, and when they were asked if that was true in an interview with the Daily Mail, they giggled and admitted that yes, of course they were. "It sounds so cheesy but we do everything together. We train together, compete together, share make-up and clothes," Becky said. The girls even still live together in their childhood home.
Becky Mentors Her Younger Sister
Not only is a seven-year age difference big for any siblings, being 17 as opposed to 24 in the sport of gymnastics is just about an entire career apart. Becky told the Daily Mail that she has tried to help Ellie every step of the way, and used her experience to help her be the best gymnast she could be.
"I feel like I made a lot of mistakes in my career," Becky said. "Because British Gymnastics was not as established as it is now I feel like I did a lot of things along the way that led to an injury which could’ve been prevented. I’ve kind of been the guinea pig and I’ve tried to help Ellie not make the same errors. It’s my second chance too, to pass on all that experience and see what she can do with it.'" And what she could do with it was make it to the 2016 Olympics.
They Go Through Regular Sister Stuff
Like any sisters, the Downies have their pet peeves and annoyances with each other, but not nearly as much as you would expect for a pair that spends almost every second together. They share clothes and hang out together, and get on each other's nerves. "We wake up together, we’re in the house together, in the gym together, in the car together. The worst thing about Ellie is that she’s not a very nice person in the morning," Becky told the Telegraph , and apparently according to Ellie, "Becky moans a little bit too much." But those are such minor complaints, as any sisters will know, especially when you spend every second together.
They Hold Each Other Up Through Career Hardships
The Downie sisters are exceptionally strong when it comes to facing adversity, setbacks, and injuries in their careers. Becky was shut out of qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics, and as she told the Telegraph, "I probably cried for a good month. I would describe it as like when someone dies — that’s literally what it felt like. I didn’t want to eat; nothing would make me happy." But Ellie, at that time just 12, and the Downies' other sister, Gemma, had a plan: They baked Becky a cake, and a few days later, surprised her with a tiny orange kitten that they named Rio, to help remind Becky that she still had further to go and to keep her sights on the future.
Becky was there for Ellie when she suffered her frightening neck injury this past Sunday in Rio, from which the younger Downie sister bounced back and ending up still doing her vault rotation. Becky said her sister's injury and comeback was no surprise to her: "I know what Ellie is like," she told The Guardian. "She's a fighter." No doubt Ellie learned some of that from her sister.
They Love Each Other Unconditionally
Seven years is a big age difference, but the Downie sisters are as close as ever. This adorable throwback birthday photo from Becky on Ellie's birthday proves that they've been in this together since day one.
They Feel Each Others Victories & Defeats
One of the rarest things about sisters on the same Olympic team is knowing exactly what it feels like when the other faces defeats or victories. Ellie told The Guardian in an interview last year: "You always feel nervous for a team-mate, but when it’s a family member it’s a different kind of emotion, you feel it more. You feel the highs more and you feel the lows more. While she was doing her routines I just held my breath."
The Downie sisters are a force to be reckoned with on the floor, the vaults, and the beam, and there's no doubt their bond will continue throughout both of their amazing gymnastics careers.