Petition calls for gymnastics review

Downie made her Olympic debut at the 2008 Games in Beijing

A petition calling for an independent review into British Gymnastics’ selection process for Tokyo 2020 has attracted more than 22,000 signatures.

It comes after Becky Downie, 29, was left out of GB’s Olympic team.

Downie won a silver medal at the last world championships in 2019 and last year spoke out against abusive behaviour in gymnastics training.

“We need the selection process to be fair,” said Sarah Dougan, who started the petition on Monday.

“Myself and others believe that this is a result of Becky being open about the culture of abuse experienced in British Gymnastics and that she is being punished for holding them accountable.”

James Thomas, British Gymnastics’ performance director, has denied that, saying: “There is no athlete who was viewed in any other light around speaking out over the last 12 months that impacted on selection.

“I’m very confident the team were considered on their gymnastic merits and nothing else.”

Downie, a former European and Commonwealth uneven bars champion, took part in a specially-arranged trial event following the death of her 24-year-old brother, but Thomas said the selection panel then decided to prioritise the team event rather than take a specialist to Tokyo.

“I believe that the selection committee should be replaced by independent judges at a separate event,” Dougan added.

“At the very least, British Gymnastics should make their selection process transparent to the public to ensure it is fair.”