Gymternet Weekly: Downie family suffers tragic loss, Anastasia Webb wins Honda Sports Award, IOC to offer vaccine to all Tokyo Games participants (May 3 – 9, 2021)

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Gymternet Weekly: Downie family suffers tragic loss, Anastasia Webb wins Honda Sports Award, IOC to offer vaccine to all Tokyo Games participants (May 3 - 9, 2021)

It’s never a dull week around the gymternet! Here’s our weekly roundup of news, videos, and more from your favorite gymnasts!

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Top headlines from this post

– Brother of Olympic gymnasts Becky and Ellie Downie dies at just 24

The entire gymnastics community is mourning the loss of the brother of British gymnasts Becky and Ellie Downie, Josh, who died in the hospital last Thursday after he collapsed while playing cricket. He was 24.

– Anastasia Webb earns prestigious Honda Sport Award

Oklahoma senior and NCAA vault, floor and all-around champion Anastasia Webb was named the Honda Sport Award Winner for gymnastics, the Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA) announced Thursday.

– IOC offers vaccine to all Tokyo Games participants

Olympic officials announced deals to provide vaccine doses to visitors before they travel to Japan, the latest effort to ease the fears of a skeptical Japanese public.

Tragedy as brother of Olympic gymnasts Becky and Ellie Downie dies at just 24


The brother of Team GB Olympic gymnasts Becky and Ellie Downie has died suddenly after collapsing while playing cricket.

Josh Downie, 24, died in the hospital last Thursday after he collapsed from cardiac arrest during a nets session in Birkenhead, Merseyside, England.

He had recently moved from Nottingham to the area with his girlfriend to work as a teacher after graduating from university.

Ambulance crews rushed to his aid and gave him CPR before taking him to hospital, where he died despite the best efforts of medics.

His grieving mom, Helen Downie, said she was still in “complete shock”, reports Nottinghamshire Live. Read the full story from The Mirror here.

Meanwhile, Becky and Ellie, who have been competing for spots on Team GB’s Olympic team, withdrew from the country’s final Olympic trial after receiving the news.

“No words can describe the pain we as a family are feeling right now,” Becky shared in a post on social media. “The world is so cruel sometimes and no one is ever ready for anything like this to happen. Josh you were the most amazing brother with one of the biggest hearts I know. You will always be my little big brother & I will love and miss you for the rest of my life. A life without you is unimaginable and not one I ever wanted to live but know you will never be forgotten. We will forever be the Downie 5.”

Anastasia Webb earns prestigious Honda Sport Award

© Oklahoma Athletics

Oklahoma senior and NCAA vault, floor and all-around champion Anastasia Webb was named the Honda Sport Award Winner for gymnastics, the Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA) announced Thursday.

Webb is just the fourth Sooner athlete to receive the prestigious award, joining former gymnasts Kelly Garrison (1987, 1988), Maggie Nichols (2019) and softball’s Keilani Ricketts (2012, 2013).

The Honda Sport Award has been presented annually by the CWSA for the past 45 years to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA- sanctioned sports and signifies “the best of the best in collegiate athletics”.  The winner of the sport award becomes a finalist for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and the prestigious 2021 Honda Cup, which will be presented on a telecast on CBS Sports Network on June 28th at 9 pm ET.

“I am extremely honored and grateful to have won the Honda Sport Award for gymnastics,” Webb said of the honor. “Winning the Honda Award is a dream come true and I cannot thank enough my amazing coaching staff, my teammates, and my family for all the endless support.”

Read the full story here.

IOC offers vaccine to all Tokyo Games participants

The International Olympic Committee said Thursday that it had struck deals with two companies for coronavirus vaccine doses that will allow a significant proportion of athletes and officials traveling to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo this summer the opportunity to be vaccinated before they arrive in Japan.

Judges at an Olympic diving test event in Tokyo on Thursday. (Photo by Behrouz Mehri/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

The committee announced the agreements with the companies, Pfizer and BioNTech, to distribute donated doses of the vaccine to Games participants in their home countries, where they would be administered by local officials and through domestic vaccination programs.

The effort is the latest attempt by Olympic officials and Japanese organizers to assuage the concerns of a skeptical Japanese public, which has consistently told pollsters that it does not want the Games to take place during the pandemic. Only about 1 percent of the Japanese population is fully vaccinated, and several areas, including Tokyo, are under restrictions that have shuttered restaurants, bars and nonessential businesses.

“The more athletes who are vaccinated at the Games, the safer it’s going to be for athletes, officials, the Japanese community and also our respective communities when we come back home,” said Rosie MacLennan, a Canadian trampolinist who won gold medals at the previous two Summer Olympics. “I felt a fair bit of relief when I read the news.”

Read the full story from The New York Times here.

USA Gymnastics suspends former Olympic coach Kevin Mazeika

Coach Kevin Mazeika of the United States gymnastic team attends a press conference ahead of the Beijing 2008 Olympics at the MPC on August 6, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Kevin Mazeika, who guided the Team USA men to medals at consecutive Olympic Games, has been suspended by USA Gymnastics for unspecified misconduct.

Mazeika, 59, is prohibited from having “unsupervised contact with minors,” under the terms of his suspension.

Mazeika, president of the Houston Gymnastics Academy, was unavailable for comment Monday, according to the club.

Mazeika was a three-time U.S. Olympic men’s team head coach. The U.S. won a team silver medal at the 2004 Games, a bronze at the 2008 Olympics, the first time the American men won team competition medals at consecutive Games. The 2004 silver was the first men’s team competition medal at a non-boycotted Olympics since 1932. As a four-time World Championships coach, Mazeika directed the U.S. to five silver medals.

Read the full story from The OC Register here.

Eythora Thorsdottir on gymnastics floor routine: “It’s art.”

When Eythora Thorsdottir is about to go on floor exercise, you’ll know it. A hush comes over the audience, fans lean in. There’s even a quiet that comes over the press tribunes: this is a routine you won’t want to miss.

Picture by 2019 Getty Images

Her lightness in movement and connection to the music has set her apart as the sport of artistic gymnastics increasingly focuses on acrobatics, making her a fan favourite.

“That’s kind of what I live for,” Thorsdottir told and Olympic Channel in an exclusive interview. “At the end of the day, whether I did well or not, it means more to me if I can touch someone, like touch their souls, and they send me a DM or something and tell me, ‘Oh, my god. I felt the story, it came close to my own story.’ That’s what gets me going.”

Despite the attention her artistry has brought her, she says she remains focused on creating routines that meet her standards – not others’.

“I kind of created a standard for myself, not for what the audience expects or something because you’ll never know. It’s art,” Thorsdottir said. “One routine will fit in fine, and everyone will love it. And then, another one, they say, ‘Meh! I adored the last one more.’ So, it’s hard to keep track of how everyone feels nowadays, so we try to keep it in our standard.”

Read the full story from Olympic Channel’s Scott Bregman here.

Gymnastics Canada will not send teams to 2021 Pan American Gymnastics Championships

Gymnastics Canada, the national governing body for gymnastics in Canada, announced Friday that it will not be entering teams in the upcoming 2021 Senior Pan American Championships being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from June 4-13, 2021, due to health and safety concerns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, the national governing body will not be sending athletes to the 2021 Junior Pan American Championships slated for Guadalajara, Mexico (artistic), and Guatemala City, Guatemala (Rhythmic).

“In this pandemic environment, an additional layer of concern is required when travelling internationally to competitions,” said Ian Moss, CEO for Gymnastics Canada. “Gymnastics Canada has a very detailed risk assessment protocol that is followed for all international events and, for these competitions, it was felt that the risk to the health and safety of all travelling personnel was too high at this time to consider competing.”

The Senior Pan American Championships were Canada’s last-chance qualifier event for the Tokyo Olympic Games in men’s artistic, women’s artistic, and rhythmic gymnastics. Canada had the opportunity to qualify 1 more athlete in men’s and women’s artistic respectively, and 1 individual and 1 group in rhythmic gymnastics at this competition. The event was also a qualifier for trampoline gymnastics, but there is still one more chance to qualify for that discipline at a World Cup competition to be held in Italy in the coming weeks.

In rhythmic gymnastics, the event was also an individual qualification event for the 2021 World Championships.

“We realize the impact these decisions have on our athletes, especially those senior athletes that have dedicated so many years to their ambition of competing at the Olympic Games,” added Moss. “We will do everything we can not only to support all athletes and coaches impacted by this decision through this difficult period, but to also provide hope and opportunity moving forward towards their international goals in the future.”

Athletes and coaches did have the opportunity to appeal this decision, and GymCan went through the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC) arbitration process with these individuals to show transparency around the decision. The result of that appeal, which ruled in GymCan’s favour, was delivered to all parties on May 6th, 2021.

Read the full press release from Gymnastics Canada here.

Final dismount: Is this guy smiling and talking?

Yes, yes he is, Rhys. Chinese Nationals gave the gymternet alllll the laughs this year! #NoContextGymnastics