LONDON (Reuters) – World uneven bars silver medallist Becky Downie has missed out on selection for the Tokyo 2020 Games after being given a special chance to qualify for the British team following the sudden death of her brother.
Downie, who had been hoping to compete at her third Olympics at the age of 29, was the notable absentee from the four-athlete women’s team announced by Team GB on Monday.
The BBC reported that Downie was not on a reserve list either and an appeal by her legal team had been rejected.
“I would say it comes as a shock but after how we’ve been treated this year it’s not really,” said Downie’s younger sister Ellie, who has decided to take time out of the sport, on Twitter.
Both sisters spoke out last year about the emotional scars from their careers and said abusive behaviour in gymnastics training had become “ingrained” and “completely normalised”.
The Gymnasts for Change group of former gymnasts said the exclusion was a “total shock”.
“With Becky having criticised the culture in British gymnastics just last year, it’s hard not to assume that their motivation in effectively ending Becky Downie’s career is a sinister warning to those who might speak out in future,” it added in a statement.
British Gymnastics performance director James Thomas said the decision was based purely on merit.
“I’m very confident the team were considered on their gymnastic merits and nothing else,” he told reporters.
Neither sister took part in last month’s British Olympic trial in Cardiff after their 24-year-old brother Josh suffered a heart attack during a cricket nets session.
British gymnastics had agreed to delay the selection of the women’s team until early June.
The BBC reported that British Gymnastics had wanted to focus on winning a team medal rather than taking a specialist.
The four selected are 2019 European beam champion Alice Kinsella, twin sisters Jennifer and Jessica Gadirova and 2021 European uneven bars bronze medallist Amelie Morgan.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)