Can Canadian Ellie Black pull off another upset in gymnastics?

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Yesterday in Liverpool, England, five Canadian women made history by winning their country’s first-ever medal in team competition at the World Gymnastics Championships. The surprising bronze medals of Ellie Black, Laurie Denommee, Denelle Pedrick, Emma Spence and Sydney Turner also earned Canada a spot in the women’s team event at the 2024 Olympics.

The Canadians have surely benefited from the absence of reigning Olympic champion Russia, whose athletes are banned from international gymnastics due to the invasion of Ukraine. But they deserve all the points for stepping onto the world championship podium after Canada failed to reach the team final at last year’s Olympics and then qualified for this one in as the eighth and final qualifier. The bronze medal is Canada’s first medal of any kind at the world gymnastics championships (held every year except Olympic years) since Shallon Olsen and Ana Padurariu won the individual silver medals in 2018.

Could more medals be in store for Canada before the competition ends on Sunday? It all depends on Black, the only Canadian to qualify for one of the remaining finals. In addition to Thursday’s women’s all-around final, the 27-year-old from Halifax earned a berth in two of the four women’s apparatus finals: Saturday’s vault and Sunday’s balance beam.

WATCH | Ellie Black’s beam routine secures historic bronze medal for Canada:

Ellie Black wins historic team medal for Canada at world gymnastics championships

Ellie Black’s balance beam routine secured Canada’s bronze medal, her first-ever world medal in the team event and a berth in the event at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Although Black’s qualifying results don’t bode well for her podium chances (she placed 11th in the all-around, sixth on vault and eighth on balance beam), don’t count on the female gymnast the most successful in Canadian history. Black won the all-around silver medal at the 2017 world championships in Montreal – making her the only Canadian to medal in an all-around at the world championships – and placed fourth in 2019. She also won all-around titles at the Commonwealth Games and Pan American Games (twice) and placed fifth at the 2016 Olympics. In Tokyo last year, Black withdrew from the Olympic final of the all-around multiple after aggravating an ankle injury during training. But she returned a few days later for the balance beam final and earned a daring fourth place.

Black’s beam play looks solid at the moment too, as her solid routine in the final rotation under pressure in the team final yesterday secured Canada the bronze medal. In the individual balance beam final, Black won’t have to face American superstar Simone Biles, who beat her to the bronze medal at the Olympics last year. Biles is on indefinite hiatus from the sport after his mental issues in Tokyo. Also absent is Olympic all-around gold medalist Suni Lee of the United States, who is taking a year off from elite competition.

Thursday’s women’s all-around final begins at 2:45 p.m. ET. Watch it live on, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.

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