After Bold Stance Against Injustice in Gymnastics, Iconic Duo Awarded Highest Honor for Changing the Sport

Published 12/30/2023, 3:38 PM EST

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Gymnastics is a sport filled with inspiring legacies that remain etched in the world of sports. However, lurking below the surface, the shadows of a toxic culture and abuse have at times tainted its beauty. In 2020, an iconic British duo decided to raise their voices to put an end to such injustices. Three years later, after their bold stance in the sport, the sister duo was awarded the highest honor for changing the sport.

Iconic British gymnastics duo bestowed with huge honor

In a post on X by an account called Josephine (@ringleaps), she lauded gymnastics stars former Olympian Becky and her gymnast sister Ellie Downie. Highlighting the honor of the “Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” given to the gymnastics icons, the handle highlighted the part that read, “for services to gymnasts” and stated, “WHAT A LEGACY” adding an emotional emoji. This post came after the sisters from Nottingham were recognized for their services to the sport and their fellow athletes and bestowed with prestige.


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Speaking to the BBC on receiving the accolade, Becky Downie highlighted how standing up for themselves and speaking up against abuse faced was something they never regretted, “but it definitely did come with its consequences for us, and to be recognized on a scale like this, really it’s a massive ‘you did do the right thing’.”


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How Becky and Ellie Downie called out abuse

Looking back to 2020, the two British Olympic gymnasts and sisters, Becky and Ellie Downie, spoke out about abusive behavior in gymnastics training with the BBC. They mentioned that the abusive culture and its implications for the mental and emotional well-being of athletes had been considered normal for a long time. At that time, both sisters were part of the Great Britain squad and confessed that fear had initially silenced them.


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However, they felt a sense of responsibility to protect the well-being of young children entering gymnastics. This call-out by the sister led the governing body of gymnastics in the UK, British Gymnastics, to acknowledge the situation and also state that the reported behaviors were contrary to their standards. Three years later, not only their massive contributions to the sport as athletes have been acknowledged, but also their push for change in the sport earned them the MBEs.

Read more: Gabby Douglas Evokes Nostalgic “2012 Smile” a Day After Teasing Gymnastics Comeback at Winter Cup


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Ellie Downie is now a retired gymnast who enjoys her career as a personal trainer and Pilates instructor and is hoping to start her own business. And her sister, Becky Downie, on the other hand, is training for the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics. This has left fans like Josephine in awe of the icons who have solidified their names, earning their well-deserved laurels in gymnastics.



Written by:

Christaline Meyers


One take at a time

Hello there! I'm Christaline Meyers, a Olympics Sports Writer for Essentially Sports. As an ardent lover of the sporting world, I've found my home in the dazzling world of Gymnastics, where elegance meets athleticism in gravity-defying routines. But my passion doesn't stop there; I'm a sports enthusiast with a taste for the wild waves of surfing, the adrenaline rush of Alpine Skiing, and the street-smart moves of skateboarding.
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Edited by:

Sampurna Pal