Canadian gymnastics has a new queen, and Ellie Black is more than happy to claim her crown.
The 19-year-old gymnast from Halifax wrapped up her dominant performance at the Pan Am Games on Wednesday, when she mounted the podium to receive two gold medals for her commanding, acrobatic routines on the balance beam and in the floor exercise.
The twin victories brought her medal count to five — three golds, one silver and one bronze — the most of any Canadian at the Games so far. Black was also the first Canadian in 36 years, and first non-American since 1983, to win gold in the Pan Am’s all-around event, which took place Monday at the Toronto Coliseum near Exhibition Place. It was a tour de force showing that saw Black signing autographs for packs of wide-eyed kids and getting swarmed by reporters.
“I don’t think it’s really hit me. I think when I go home it will really sink in. It’s been unbelievable,” said Black, who won a medal in every Pan Am competition she entered.
“It’s incredible standing on top of the podium seeing the Canadian flag rise and hearing the anthem and everyone singing … I don’t think that could ever get old.”
Black spearheaded a successful day for the Canadian gymnastics team. Stoney Creek, Ont. gymnast Kevin Lytwyn said he put in the performance of his life to win the silver medal in the men’s horizontal bar event, while Victoria Woo from La Prairie, Que. placed third behind Black and American Megan Skaggs on the balance beam.
Woo, 17, credited Black with helping soothe her nerves ahead of the competition, which took place in front of a packed, energetic home crowd. “She has that quality that she can calm us down. Like before beams, she calmed me down because I was really nervous,” said Woo. “It’s an honour to be up there with Ellie.”
Black’s second gold came in the floor routine, where she was joined on the podium by Amelia Huntley from the U.S., who won silver, and bronze medallist Ana Gomez Porras from Guatemala.
Colombia’s Jossimar Calvo Moreno won gold in the men’s bar, while Lytwyn came second and American Paul Ruggeri placed third. Calvo Moreno also topped the podium in the men’s parallel bars event. Manrique Larduet from Cuba won the men’s vault, where North Vancouver’s Scott Morgan placed sixth.
After his competition, Morgan said Black’s athleticism and drive is an inspiration for the men’s team to try and match her success.
“I look up to her so much,” he said. “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.”
Black said she hopes to build on her success at the Pan Ams as she looks toward the world championships this fall. Last year she placed ninth at the event, Canada’s best-ever showing.
“The goal is basically to become the best athlete you possibly can,” said Black. “I’m still pushing.”
- This story is updated from an earlier version