Ellie Black becomes Canada’s sweetheart with a memorable five medal performance at Pan Am Games

Although she was not a household name at the time, Ellie Black had already established herself as one to watch during the London 2012 Summer Games. Although she suffered a broken ankle during competition, she had gained the respect of many within the Canadian gymnastics team for her tenacity, as Black qualified for the Vault final.

Of note, her efforts contributed to a fifth-place finish in the women’s team final, the finest result ever attained in Summer Games play. Taking into account that the injury was sustained on a run down the mat, it was already part of an injury list that included a dislocated elbow and a broken thumb.

Three years later, a 19-year old Black has risen to the occasion. In every gymnastics competition at the 2015 Pan Am Games, Black has managed a podium finish. Reaching her remarkable potential, the outcome was three gold medals, along with a silver and bronze, respectively.

Competing at Ricoh Coliseum, home of the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies, Black earned gold medals in the women’s all-round, becoming the first Canadian to gain gold in this discipline since 1979. On her final day of competition, she would gain two more gold medals, the first on the beam, followed by the floor exercise.

Scoring 15.050 on the beam, adding to such a meaningful day was the fact that fellow Canadian Victoria-Kayen Woo qualified for the bronze medal. Her second gold medal was won by a much narrow margin, as her final score of 14.400 was two-tenths of a point better than silver medalist Amelia Hundley of the United States. After the victory, a jubilant Black graciously signed autographs to the young fans in attendance, certainly providing them with a lifetime of memories.

Attaining such unprecedented heights builds on her three medals attained last year at the Commonwealth Games (gold – beam, silver – vault, bronze – floor); along with becoming the first Canadian gymnast to earn a ninth-place finish at the 2014 FIG World Championships.

Becoming the first competitor at the 2015 Pan Am Games to win five medals, fellow gymnast Jossimar Calvo Moreno from Colombia would also reach the magical number. Of note, the Canadian record for most medals was actually set at the third-ever Pan Am Games, back in 1959. Shooter Gerald Ouellette attained nine medals.

Testament to her toughness is the fact that she has always managed to overcome injuries by maintaining a training regimen on the things she was able to work on. Such effort paid remarkable dividends at the Pan Am Games, making her a national sporting hero.

Hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, she was lured by many NCAA scholarship offers, but opted to stay close to home at Dalhousie University. Representing Dalhousie, she managed a podium finish at the 2013 Summer Unviersiade, earning silver on the floor and bronze on the beam, becoming the first Canadian female gymnast to do so since 1983. With the Rio Summer Games less than one year away, Black has certainly established herself as a gold medal favorite, possibly establishing herself as one of the finest Canadian female athletes for the second decade of this century.

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