Ellie Downie quits gymnastics aged 23 to ‘prioritise mental health and happiness’

Early retirement: Ellie Downie has quit gymnastics aged 23  (Getty)
Early retirement: Ellie Downie has quit gymnastics aged 23 (Getty)

British gymnast Ellie Downie has retired from the sport at the age of 23 in order to protect her mental health.

Downie was part of the British team which won bronze at the 2015 World Championships and two years later became Britain’s first all-round gold at a major championships by winning the European title.

She ends her career with two World Championship medals and 10 at European level.

Announcing her decision, she said: “With a heavy heart and an array of emotions, today is the day I announce my retirement from gymnastics. To say it’s been a difficult decision is a a massive understatement but, after a really tough last few years, I’ve made the decision to prioritise my mental health and happiness.”

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Downie’s brother Josh died back in 2021 after a heart attack while cricket training. She and her sister Becky, also a gymnast, were also outspoken about abusive behaviour within their sport, talking of a “toxic culture”.

Continuing her statement, she added: “Gymnastics has been my life for as long as I can remember and I am proud of everything I was fortunate enough to achieve in the sport. Competing and winning medals for Great Britain has meant everything and more to me and I’ll miss it enormously.

“Thanks for everyone’s support over the years especially my family and friends it really wouldn’t have been possible with you. It’s been a blast.”

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Becky Downie led the tributes to her sister. She wrote: “There will never be enough words or the right ones to emulate the scale of what you have achieved throughout your career and it honestly breaks my heart how it has come to an end for you. You deserved so much better but I couldn’t be more proud to be your big sister.

“I hope the magnitude of what you accomplished for yourself and your country is something you cherish for the rest of your life and you move into your next chapter with your head held high. History maker forever.”