RAISING THE BAR
Decorated Halifax gymnast Ellie Black landing in elite company with Order of Nova Scotia induction
At 23, she’s the youngest woman to be honoured and the second youngest ever, behind ... thestar.com
When Ellie Black has the Order of Nova Scotia medal placed around her neck on Tuesday, she’ll be joining very elite company at a staggeringly young age.
Sidney Crosby received the same award back in 2009 at the age of 21. Black, 23, will be the second-youngest recipient. She is also at least half the age of most of the distinguished individuals in the Order.
“It’s very rare to have youth recipients,” said Glennie Langille, chief protocol secretary of the Order of Nova Scotia. “But you will notice that most recipients have accomplished an awful lot. To have that impact at a young age is really rare.”
On the surface, it might seem like Crosby and Black are very different athletes; one wears skates, the other flips from bars. But when you look closer, you see some similarities.
“They’re both incredibly driven, they’re both incredibly eloquent, they’re both remarkably humble. They will not tell you about themselves at all,” said Bruce Rainnie, president and CEO of the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame and a former Olympic broadcaster with CBC.
“They’re both remarkably generous with their time, they both have a love of youth and love to inspire and serve as role models. If you look at the bigger picture of both athletes, they have quite a lot in common, if you dig a little deeper.”
It wasn’t purely Black’s success in gymnasiums that brought her to the attention of the Order of Nova Scotia, Rainnie said.
It was also “being just an outstanding young citizen who has never hesitated when asked to give back.” Black regularly tours the province, speaking in schools about her journey as an athlete.
“Unless she has a conflict with training or is getting ready for a big competition, she does everything she can to make sure she can to come share her story with the kids,” said Rainnie.
Black trains regularly at Alta Gymnastics in Halifax and is often seen in the community when she isn’t competing around the globe.
“It’s easy for a kid to turn off the TV and be impressed by Lebron James, or in the past the likes of a Wayne Gretzky. That’s easy. But when you see that person, maybe Ellie lives down the street, but she comes from (the) same province as these kids, she’s inspiring.”
When Black first started as a
“TO HAVE THAT IMPACT AT A YOUNG AGE IS REALLY RARE.” Glennie Langille, chief protocol secretary of the Order of Nova Scotia
gymnast, it took years before she won anything at all.
“She was not a child prodigy,” said Rainnie. “Now she’s the greatest Canadian gymnast by a landslide.”
Black cleaned up at the Paris World Challenge Cup in September, bringing home four medals. She claimed a silver medal in the all-around competition at the 2017 world championships last October — Canada’s first-ever medal in the all-around at worlds.
Black also won five medals at the Pan American Games in 2015, when the event happened in Toronto. She is also a two-time Olympian, representing Canada
in London (2012) and Rio (2016) and finding success both individually and in team competition. If she needed another highlight, this year she placed 12th in the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame’s list of the top 15 athletes from the province.
“She’s defied the sort of natural laws of gymnastics in the sense that she’s physically bigger than most gymnasts, and in terms of age her prime seems to be much later,” Rainnie said.
“A lot of gymnasts, at least in recent years, seem to hit their peak between the ages of 14 and
18, and here’s Ellie at ages 22 or
23 and she seems to be getting better with time.”
Inductees at thestar.com/halifax
Ellie Black at the 2018 FIG Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Qatar. At 23, she will become the second-youngest person ever to receive the Order of Nova Scotia. The youngest was Sidney Crosby, who received the same award back in 2009 at the age of 21.