British women’s gymnastics team falls short in Dubai

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Great Britain’s women’s gymnastics team have failed to qualify for a team final for the first time since 2006 after falling short at the World Championships in Doha.

The five-strong squad placed ninth in the ongoing qualification process, scoring 160.964 to sit narrowly outside the top eight ranking required to advance.

But there was better news for Becky Downie, whose uneven bars routine is likely to ensure her place in Friday’s individual apparatus final, while sister Ellie Downie and Kelly Simm qualified for the all-around final on Thursday.

Despite the absence through injury of big names like Claudia Fragapane and Amy Tinkler, the five-strong British team was still expected to have enough to go through in an event in which they won a bronze medal as recently as 2015.

And while falls by Georgia-Mae Fenton on bars and Alice Kinsella on beam left their qualification in doubt, there was some still surprise among team members when the standings were revealed.

Ellie Downie said: “I was quite surprised at the team score to be honest, I wasn’t expecting to finish ninth. I don’t think we did too bad a job and I was pretty pleased with my own performance.”

Ellie Downie
Ellie Downie returned from injury to reach the all-around final (Danny Lawson/PA)

“I was pretty scared when I stepped back out there,” added Downie.

“Yesterday my vault training was absolutely horrific, but things went fine in the warm-up so getting the vault over with first was probably a good thing.”

Meanwhile 26-year-old Becky Downie, who like her sister has been laid low by injuries which prompted her to focus all her energy on a single piece of apparatus, has vowed to step up her difficulty level in Friday’s final.

Downie said: “My attitude is to always go out and enjoy it because I don’t know which major championships is going to be my last these days.

“I didn’t want to go out of the worlds by taking too big of a risk in qualifying, but now I feel like I’ve got nothing to lose, and I’ve got so much to be proud of how ever things turn out.

“I know what I’m capable of if I make the final but it’s a really strong field and I’ve got to get through what is a real physical monster of a routine. But I’ve been working on it a long time and if I can pull it off it will be pretty special.”

Max Whitlock and team-mates Dominick Cunningham, Brinn Bevan, James Hall and Joe Fraser are due to return on Monday when they will hope to edge their way into medal contention having qualified in fifth place.

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