Refreshed, rejuvenated and ready, Ellie Downie has the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships firmly in her sight.
After undergoing ankle surgery in August 2017, the 20-year-old European all-around champion has had a rocky couple of years but now feels better than ever ahead of the competition in Stuttgart which begins on October 4.
If the first year back was spent focusing on finding her competitive feet once again then 2019 has, in her own words, seen things go up a gear after restoring a career once thought almost lost to normality.
Now, she wants glory once more and to secure a British presence in Tokyo – which a top 12 team placing will guarantee.
“I’m in a totally different place now to where I was last year and I have totally different goals,” she said.
“I’d probably say at the European Championships this year I was back to where I was pre-injury and then I’d say we’ve gone up a gear from there on some things.
“I’m at the point where I’m ready to get going at the World Championships and I want to get it done now.
“We’ve been training for a long time, I’ve been working really hard so I’m really excited to get out there with the girls.
“We’ve got a big job to do early on which is to qualify our Olympic team so I think it will be pretty nerve-wracking to begin with but we’re all excited and all ready.
“I’m also looking to make the all-around final and the vault final, they’re my aims, so whatever comes from that comes from that. The team is the main focus at the start and then I’ll focus on myself after that.”
It will be a competition in which Downie will aim to improve on her encouraging showing at the European Championships in Poland in April where she claimed all-around silver and bronze in vault.
NO WORDS🥈EUROPEAN AA SILVER MEDALIST🥰— Ellie Downie (@elliedownie) April 12, 2019
Can’t thank everyone enough for all the support, family, friends coaches, medical team! Roll on vault finals tomorrow♥️ pic.twitter.com/j6ZyA3KnZo
These results couldn’t have come at a better time after she suffered a shaky few months upon returning to competitive action in 2018 with 11th position in the all-around at the World Championships.
While the result was not terrible, it was a far cry from what Downie knows she is capable of.
She added: “Things were a bit ropey when I came back from injury. On floor we had to make sure we were landing forwards because my feet couldn’t take backwards landings yet.
“Worlds last year was a bit stressful just because I knew I wasn’t as prepared as I like to be.
“I know I can do so much better than that but at that time it was such a big accomplishment to get back to competing, I then went home and rebuilt from there.
“At the Europeans I came back and did what I needed to do and we can move on from there and I was really happy with what I did there. I feel like I’ve moved on now and the injury is an old thing.”
Downie has spoken at length before about the part her sister Becky played in helping her through the recuperation process but what is lesser known is the significance of the business they run together, Double Downies, and the impact this has on her career.
She added: “Becky is pretty much my second coach, my second mum, my second anything really!
“She’s always there if I ever need to go to her and so having the business with her is nice.
“It’s a big pressure lifted as well because a lot of gymnasts come out of the sport and think oh what am I going to do next?
“I know I’ve always got that to go to straight away and can then think what I want to do after that.
“We design our own leotards for our British and English Championships and it’s nice to create them together, thinking about what people will enjoy and trying to be unique and quirky and classy.
“We have our business and our experience days within the business too. It’s very cool when people come to our training days in our leotards.
“It’s how we can leave our trademark on the sport, we can do it as long as we want and do whatever the hell we want with it.
“When we both finish, whenever that’ll be, we can keep carrying that on and keep an influence in gymnastics.”