Toronto Star

Black is Canada’s new gold standard

Halifax gymnast was our most dominant athlete with five Pan Am medals

- DOUG SMITH SPORTS REPORTER

The Pan Am Games have been filled with stories of athletic excellence and serve as an introducti­on to some of Canada’s top performers for casual sports fans.

The Canadian Olympic Committee will announce the name of the country’s closing ceremony flag bearer on Sunday afternoon, and it would be more than fitting if it was Ellie Black, the breakthrou­gh gymnast who was Canada’s most dominant Pan Am Games athlete.

The 19-year-old from Halifax is one of only two five-medal winners in the Games overall and she emerged as an inspiratio­n to her teammates and a name to be remembered in the runup to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“I look up to her so much,” Scott Morgan, a member of Canada’s men’s gymnastics team said of Black. “For her to come out here and do as well as she did, it’s huge. It’s huge for women’s gymnastics in Canada, it’s huge for her, and it’s a huge boost for our men’s program. We know that Canadians are in good standings now, and I’m just so happy for her.”

What Black did was almost unpreceden­ted in Canadian gymnastics history since among her five medals was the gold in the women’s all-around competitio­n.

That victory, which set in motion a whirlwind of podium appearance­s over the next two days, marked the first time a non-American had won the gold since 1983.

Black was unquestion­ably the Canadian star of the Games, but it’s not like she all of a sudden exploded onto the global gymnastics stage.

She made it to two apparatus finals at the 2012 London Olympics, suffering a broken ankle during her floor routine, and led that London team to a fifth-place finish, best ever for Canadian women.

She was ninth overall in the allround individual at the 2014 world championsh­ips — again, the best Canadian result ever — and was a Commonweal­th Games medallist.

With her sights firmly set on Rio next year, Black could become Canada’s most decorated gymnast of all time.

“The goal is basically to become the best athlete you possibly can,” she said. “I’m still pushing.” This story is part of a series on Canada’s breakout stars at Pan Am Games.

 ?? MELISSA RENWICK/TORONTO STAR ?? Ellie Black won five gymnastic medals at the Pan Ams and is among favourites to carry Canada’s flag at the closing ceremony on Sunday evening.
MELISSA RENWICK/TORONTO STAR Ellie Black won five gymnastic medals at the Pan Ams and is among favourites to carry Canada’s flag at the closing ceremony on Sunday evening.
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