Humble, loyal and better than ever, Ellie Black is a national treasure
There she is, tumbling and weaving through the stratosphere in what is arguably the most impossible sport in the world.
At 27, gymnast Ellie Black is still going strong.
It defies the passage of time and some say it’s better than ever. More importantly, she takes this country to new heights on the international stage in a pursuit suited to athletes much younger than her.
“She’s not afraid to be so great,” exclaimed the effervescent Elfi Schlegel, Canadian Commonwealth Games champion in 1978. “I feel young when I look at her. She is not afraid to be Canadian and to belong where she is. to be applauded for all she has done and continues to do. »
What Black has done since his major international debut at the London 2012 Olympics is nothing short of remarkable.
At age 16, she helped lead the Canadians to the team final at these Games for the first time in history. They ended up finishing fifth, which is unheard of considering the depth of the competition.
As an individual artist, Black is a two-time Pan American Games champion, Commonwealth Games champion and world championship silver medalist in the all-around category, which requires every gymnastic skill in the book. Listing all his international medals would be an exhausting exercise, as there are almost too many to count.
Longevity is rare in women’s gymnastics. Black has already competed in three Olympic Games and each one has recorded notable Canadian results. There was the team’s breakthrough in London. In Rio 2016 she finished fifth in the all-around and in Tokyo she narrowly missed out on a medal by finishing fourth in the balance beam final with a sprained ankle.
All of these results are the best ever achieved by a Canadian woman.
WATCH | Blacks win silver at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships:
More recently, while competing in her seventh World Championships in Liverpool, England, she anchored the current rookie-packed squad to historic bronze and qualified for what could be her fourth Olympics. She followed that up with a silver medal on beam.
That’s rarefied air for a female gymnast.
« What makes Ellie so special is her absolute desire and drive to put the team at the forefront of success, » said Brittany Rogers, Black’s two-time Olympic teammate. “She is the perfect description of a team player. She is a tremendous leader not only to her fellow team members and national team athletes, but an incredible example of hard work and dedication to the community. of gymnastics in Canada. »
WATCH | Ellie Black earns historic world championship medal for Canada:
The emotion Black allowed himself after the team’s result at Liverpool confirms this. There was the joyous lassoing movement as she descended from the balance beam. Then the outpouring of tears and hugs when she became aware of the medal.
In a sport that has always valued and rewarded individual athletes, it was the team result that was paramount for Black people.
« For more than a decade, Ellie led the Canadian women’s gymnastics team to resounding success, but that’s only part of the story, » said Olympic champion and CBC Sports analyst Kyle. Shewfelt. « She embodies Canadian values - she is focused and determined, she always sees the bright side, she treats others with kindness and respect, and she is a fierce competitor on the competition field.
« Ellie is exactly the type of ambassador you want to represent your country on the world stage. »
Her huge success and sparkling international reputation led Black to a starring role in US Olympic champion Simone Biles’ post-Tokyo 35-city tour called « Gold Over America », which was to inspire the next generation of female athletes.
She was one of only two non-American athletes to feature in a showcase that blended gymnastics and concert pop, the result being a show that put powerful women front and center in front of an adoring audience.
All of this was positive proof of the status Black earned as an enduring gymnastics superstar. That said, she stands out as much for her humility as for her undeniable talent.
« Best Ambassador » of sport
« It makes us so proud in this province to think that the greatest gymnast in Canadian history lives in Halifax and continues to train at the Alta Gymnastics Club, » said Bruce Rainnie, President and CEO of the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame.
In 2018, this organization declared Black one of the 15 greatest athletes in provincial history, alongside hockey icon Sidney Crosby.
« Ellie is so sweet and patient with young children who clearly idolize her. She answers all questions with a smile, never breaks eye contact, never forgets a name, and never rushes a conversation. She is the ‘one of the best ambassadors of a sport, and a province, that I’ve ever seen,’ Rainnie said.
« She clearly knows where she wants to go in her career, but just as clearly has never forgotten where it all started. »
There may be more medals to come in Black’s incredible gymnastics journey. But as things stand, there’s no denying that she put Canadian women on the map in one of the staple sports of the Olympics.
She has legions of dedicated followers and has redefined the boundaries of what women can aspire to in this demanding business. In short, Black’s aura is powerful and she has become an inspiration not only to countless young people, but also to generations of athletes who came before her.
« I want to be on his team »
In the modern age, as sporty women and men are increasingly concerned with their marketing and building their brands, Ellie Black seems at peace with letting what she does and who she is do the talking. .
« Every time I’m with her, I feel like I want to be on her team, » Schlegel said.
« It’s not an easy sport and she wouldn’t subject her body to it if she didn’t continue to find joy in her gymnastics. She has an honest and pure outlook on life. Gymnastics has become her life. I love him as a human being, pure and simple.
« The fact that she’s an exceptional athlete is a bonus and I think we need more athletes like her who aren’t just after a paycheck. »
She is a Canadian by birth, an honor to her home community and a standard bearer for women in sport around the world.
Ellie Black is still around but is already that rare gem of gymnastics who is sure to be admired for many years to come.