Gymnastics | Ellie Black’s Legacy in Two Acts

Despite never winning gold at the Olympics or World Championships, Ellie Black is still considered the greatest gymnast in Canadian history. As if his legacy should be shaped beyond the awards.

Black will have the opportunity to end his Olympic drought at his fourth Games next summer in Paris.

Even if her first three experiences were not very successful, she still had the podiums, by virtue of her 3 medals won at the Worlds, her 6 medals at the Commonwealth Games and her 10 medals at the Pan American Games. Many of these achievements will have been anthology moments in the history of Canadian gymnastics.

However, for an athlete considered practically a living legend in her community, her resume is missing a little gold.

“Medals are part of sport and it rewards our efforts,” she insisted in a telephone interview with The Press.

But in an environment where success is defined by decorations and distinctions, Black is mainly focused on stoking the fire at the end of the torch that she will pass to her teammates when the time comes.

“Real success is the person you are, the values ​​you advocate and what you are capable of giving to your sport. An athlete’s legacy should not be based solely on their medals. »

Give to the next ones

Ellie Black was 16 years old when she participated in her first Olympic Games, in London, in 2012. She was nevertheless a centerpiece of the national team, finishing in fifth place, the best result in Canadian history. in the team event.

Twelve years later, she is the great leader of a delegation guaranteed to participate in the next Games since the 2022 Worlds, the result of a bronze medal acquired in Liverpool. The age of her teammates who accompanied her in this conquest varies between 18 and 24 years old. None can claim as much experience as Black on the international scene.


Ellie Black

“We must lead by example and equip my teammates to be more successful. Ultimately, I am in a phase where I want to give back, help the system and pave the way for the next generations of gymnasts,” she responds when asked to define the great qualities that a good leader of troops must possess.

The idea is not to put pressure, but to inspire them as much as possible so that they in turn have the confidence to be the best in the world.

Ellie Black

On the way to Paris

Black will be in action in Montreal, from March 7 to 10, as part of the International Gymnix, a competition that is part of the Olympic selection process.

Every day she brings her a little closer to Paris. Like all Olympians in this pivotal year, every decision of the gymnast is oriented around the Games.

“I’ve been through the Olympic process before, so I know what to expect, but every cycle is different. Currently, it’s mainly preparation to be the best version of myself once at the Games. »

However, she hit a wall during the last major competition in which she participated. At the all-around at the Antwerp World Championships in October, the Halifax athlete took 16e rank, despite an impeccable start to the competition.

Without necessarily destabilizing her, this slap in the face served as a “reminder”, she explains.

She especially saw very little action in 2023, as she was recovering from yet another ankle procedure, suffered in February. “I realized that I needed a little more time, consistency, training and competitions. But this information gathering allowed me to arrive at this Olympic year better prepared. »

From Halifax to Houston

This preparation has been somewhat improved in recent weeks, notably thanks to a visit to Simone Biles’ club in Houston, Texas, at the beginning of the month.


Gymnasts Ellie Black and Simone Biles in training

The same Simone Biles who prevented Black from climbing the podium at the Tokyo Games in the beam event. The Canadian finished just off the podium, 0.134 points behind the American.

Nevertheless, the bond between Ellie Black and the most prolific gymnast of her generation is strong, she assures: “This collaboration between countries has become more and more common, especially in gymnastics. It has become very important. I have several friends on other teams. »

In fact, no one would dare decline an invitation from Biles. It would be like refusing a run with Mikaela Shiffrin or rejecting an exchange with Serena Williams. “Training with other athletes, in another facility, with other settings, in another environment, to see how they train, it’s really cool. It’s good for motivation! »

The coming months will be “more stressful and intense” for Black. Until his arrival in France, his preparation, but above all his ability to save money, will be essential.

With her heavy injury history, the ultimate objective is to present herself at the Games in health and at peace with herself, because part of her legacy will be at stake in the pyramid of the Bercy arena. A legacy certainly defined by the visibility and accessibility that she gave to her discipline. And maybe, finally, an Olympic medal.

source site-62