Downie sisters endure mixed fortunes
Great Britain’s qualification session took a worrying turn when Ellie Downie mistimed a forward somersault during her floor routine and landed on her neck, necessitating a rapid exit from the arena.
Downie, who is 17, was placed in a wheelchair for a moment by medical staff and it seemed that her Games might be over. But once she had recovered from the immediate shock, she decided that she was fit enough to continue after all, and went ahead with her vault.
“I crunched my neck,” Downie told the BBC. “They put me in a wheelchair. I was better than I thought so I came out and vaulted.”
Downie was still due to undergo further medical tests last night before she is allowed to continue in this week’s competitions. Her mishap followed on from the shocking fall by French gymnast Samir Ait Said on Saturday, who landed so badly from his vault that his shin snapped and his foot dangled off.
After that accident, German gymnast Fabian Hambuechen suggested that the open-ended scoring system brought in after the 2004 Olympics was making the sport too dangerous. Hambuechen preferred the old system, which Nadia Comaneci famously took to its limit when she scored her perfect ten.
The women’s qualifying was continuing last night but Great Britain had already sealed their place in tomorrow’s team final by the time that the runaway favourites, the USA, arrived in the arena.
Ellie Downie’s older sister, Becky, had a better day, recording a score of 15.233 on her best apparatus of uneven bars. This appeared likely to earn her qualification for the individual final, although she stood a long way behind the 15.883 posted by reigning Olympic champion Aliya Mustafina of Russia.