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Whitlock, Downie Lead British Olympic Teams
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Max Whitlock and Becky Downie will lead the British teams at the 2016 Olympic Games, British Gymnastics announced Tuesday afternoon.

Max Whitlock and Becky Downie will lead the British teams at the 2016 Olympic Games, British Gymnastics announced Tuesday afternoon.

The final teams were announced live on the Internet via press conference co-hosted by British Gymnastics and the British Olympic Association. Great Britain qualified full teams for both men and women and is expected to be one of the leading contenders for medals in Rio de Janeiro.

Whitlock, the reigning world champion on pommel horse, headlines the men's squad of Brinn Bevan, Louis Smith, Kristian Thomas, and Nile Wilson. Smith, a two-time Olympic medalist on pommel horse, is returning for his third Olympic Games, while 2012 Olympians Thomas and Whitlock are back. Bevan and Wilson are making their Olympic debuts.

Joining Downie on the women's team will be her sister, Ellie Downie, along with Claudia Fragapane, Ruby Harrold, and Amy Tinkler. Becky Downie was a 2008 Olympian.

The "Double Downies" are the second set of sisters headed to Rio de Janeiro, where they will compete with Dutch twins Lieke and Sanne Wevers.

"I'm really, really excited and pleased to be selected," Becky Downie said. "I can't wait to get out there now; all of the team have worked so hard and are so excited. For me personally it was a big decision to carry on for this Olympic cycle but I knew I had more to give and feel like I've proved that. Being part of Team GB is amazing, we're so excited to get our kit, to be in Rio, to see all the other athletes and be on that Olympic stage."

The British men finished third at the 2012 Olympics in London and second to Japan at the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow. The British women won a historic bronze in Glasgow, the first world team medal for the program. Both teams finished second to Russia at the recent European championships in Bern, where Becky Downie won her second European title on uneven bars and Wilson won high bar.

The selection for the British men was particularly rigorous, with 2012 Olympians Dan Purvis and Sam Oldham among the top gymnasts not chosen.

"The Olympic Games selection period is always a difficult time for all," said British men's head coach Eddie Van Hoof. "I commend athletes, coaches and judges for their tremendous efforts. Now that this process has been completed, we can focus on the challenge ahead. We have a team that blends great experience with youth, which aims to set new levels of performance on the Olympic stage. We focus on each day, taking each step toward this goal. Excitement is tempered with realism for the task facing us. I am confident that this team will stand up to the challenge ahead."

In Rio de Janeiro, the British men compete in the second of three subdivisions of qualification. The women compete in the third of five subdivisions.

External Link: British Gymnastics

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