Posts Tagged ‘Ellie Black’

Excitement Builds With One Month To Go!

Saturday, July 9th, 2016



Things are getting exciting with the 2016 Olympic Games just around the corner! Most countries are in the process of selecting their representatives. The Japanese men always seem to be the first squad announced, and their team is stacked: Kohei Uchimura, Ryohei Kato, Yusuke Tanaka, Koji Yamamuro and Kenzo Shirai. Wow. I would love to see this team stand atop the team medal podium as they did 12 years ago.

Five gymnasts on a team is certainly not enough, especially for the men who have 6 events to cover. It will be interesting to see if there is room on teams for specialists such as Louis Smith (GBR) and Ashton Locklear (USA). Both gymnasts could win medals on their respective events, pommel horse and uneven bars, but if they are to be selected then only 4 spots remain to cover the rest of the events. Some teams, such as the U.S. men, stack their weakest event (pommel horse) the best they can. On the other hand, the Belgians chose a women’s team which bolsters their strength: the uneven bars.

Louis Smith (GBR), 2016 British Championships, PH AA

Ashton Locklear (USA), 2016 Pacific Rim Championships, UB TF/AA

I was happy to see Chris Brooks (USA) named to the Olympic team. Going 24-for-24 across nationals and trials is no mean feat, and his consistency deserved to be rewarded. I feel bad for Danell Leyva and Donnell Whittenburg, who didn’t quite show the best versions of themselves. It’s interesting that the selection committee chose to leave behind the only two guys who won medals at last year’s Worlds!

Chris Brooks (USA), 2016 P&G Championships, HB Day 2

The FIG really dropped the ball (…or should I say missed their hands on the vault?!) by not giving a nominative spot to Larisa Iordache when she won bronze AA at the 2015 Worlds. Why should apparatus medalists receive a spot but not AA medalists? Even if you don’t expect such a scenario to play out where an AA medalist comes from a team that is not in the top 12, couldn’t that provision still be part of the rules? And it wasn’t totally far-fetched anyway. It could have happened to Guilia Steingruber (SUI) and very nearly did happen to Manrique Larduet (CUB)….

Iordache and Catalina Ponor (ROM) both deserve to be in Rio and it’s heartbreaking that there is only room for one. My sentimental favourite is Iordache. She carried a declining team the entire quad, and did so with awesome gymnastics and a delightful personality. Ill-timed injuries have forced her into this predicament. I do think that at this very moment, though, Ponor is the most deserving of this spot and the most likely to win a beam and/or floor medal. And we all know how rock-solid she is in competition!

Catalina Ponor (ROU), 2016 European Championships, BB TF

I was thrilled when the Canadian ladies exceeded expectations and finished in 5th place at the London Olympics. I think they can do it again! Ellie Black and Brittany Rogers are on the team again, and they will be joined by Isabela Onyshko, Shallon Olsen and Rose-Kaying Woo this time around. Scott Morgan will represent Canada on the men’s side.

I love the way Belgium announced its Olympic team!

2015 World Championships

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

The dust has settled on another Worlds, and by all accounts it was a fantastic event. Glasgow sure put on a show! Many dreams of qualifying to the Rio Olympic Games were fulfilled, while others were shattered. After two weeks of incredible gymnastics, it’s hard to choose just a few favourite moments, but here we go….

Kohei Uchimura (JPN) wins his 6th straight Worlds (7 years in a row counting the 2012 Olympics). If he wins in Rio next year too, he will have dominated two entire quads. Simply amazing!

I love the Dutch team! So much elegance and beauty, and they must be over the moon to have qualified directly to Rio by placing 8th. The icing on the cake was surely Sanne Wevers‘s silver medal on beam. Sanne’s twin, Lieke, and Eythora Thorsdottir were both delightful on floor.

Oksana Chusovitina (UZB) just keeps going and going. I really hope she can earn a spot to her 7th Olympics at the Test Event. Debuting a double front vault at age 40 is unfathomable, yet she managed to do it!

Simone Biles (USA) is in a league of her own. She is able to build up enormous D scores, and her E scores are fabulous too. Her tumbling is out of this world and her signature Biles (double layout half-out) never ceases to amaze me. Sae Miyakawa (JPN) also has phenomenal tumbling, but I don’t love the rest of her routine.

Manrique Larduet (CUB) earned an Olympic spot by winning bronze on the very last event, high bar. Phew! How silly is it that his silver medal in the All Around didn’t do the trick?! The FIG must be breathing a sigh of relief, because not qualifying after being second in the world to Uchimura would have been a big egg on their collective face!

I love how Ellie Black (CAN) throws every trick in the book on beam! She has now qualified to an apparatus final every year for 4 straight years now: vault at the 2012 Olympic Games, floor at the 2013 Worlds, and beam in both 2014 and 2015. She has also improved her All Around ranking each year: 13th in 2013, 9th in 2014 and 7th this year.

What were your favourite moments from the Glasgow Worlds?

2015 Pan Am Games

Friday, July 17th, 2015

Gymnastics at the 2015 Pan Am Games has come to a close, and it was a great competition! The crowd supported all athletes and provided an exciting atmosphere. All-around champion Ellie Black (CAN) was the star of the show, winning 3 golds, a silver and a bronze. With a 6.5 start value on balance beam, she will be in contention for top honours on that event at the upcoming world championships. The men’s competition was even more exciting, with Manrique Larduet (CUB) scoring 90+ points in the qualifying round. Get this man to the world championships!! Larduet, Kohei Uchimura (JPN) and Oleg Vernyayev (UKR) would make for an excellent bunch of all-around medallists.

Competition floor

Competition floor

My sister attended Day 1 of the apparatus finals (V and UB for the women and FX, PH and R for the men) and here are some of her thoughts:

– It was a very well organized competition. Men and women alternated, so there was always a routine to watch with very little waiting time. Scores for the previous competitor on each event was always ready before the next gymnast competed.

– A high quality competition! We didn’t always see the most difficult skills, but there were very few falls or major errors.

– The Toronto crowd was very enthusiastic and encouraging toward all gymnasts, regardless of nationality (although of course, the loudest cheers were for the Canadians).

– There was lots of support for various nations in the crowd, especially for the Brazilians (so many flags, and a whole row of matching green and yellow unitard outfits).

– There were lots of other athletes in the audience wearing their national warm-ups.

– It was really nice to hear anthems that I’ve never heard before and aren’t often heard at gymnastics competitions.

– Tommy Ramos (PUR) walked in front of us and stood talking to some Puerto Rican coaches/delegation officials for a long time during warm-ups.

Tommy Ramos (PUR)

Tommy Ramos (PUR)

FX finalists

FX finalists

– Jorge Vega Lopez (GUA) was a huge surprise. He didn’t start warming up floor until most of the other gymnasts had left, but once he started he didn’t stop! He and his coach were very, very excited when his winning score came up. There was also a lady wearing a “GUA” shirt who was celebrating with him at the barrier. I am guessing it was his mom, but it might have been a delegation official.

– Most of the male medalists looked amused at receiving the stuffed Pachi mascot and waved them in the air sheepishly.

PH finalists

PH finalists

– Paula Mejias (PUR) ran into the vault on her first vault and got a zero, but did a nice layout Tsukahara second vault and received generous applause from the audience.

– After Daniele Hypolito (BRA) vaulted, she crouched down in front of a miserable-looking Mejias and gave her what appeared to be a lengthy pep talk.

– Marta Karolyi was not there, but new national staff member Rhonda Faehn was.

– Madison Copiak (CAN) is much taller than most gymnasts, and it was “all hands on deck” when it was her turn on bars; about 8 coaches and gymnasts (including Canadian Isabela Onyshko and Mexican Elsa Garcia) ran onto the podium to raise the bars, chalk them, etc. Same thing after she’d finished her routine.

UB finalists

UB finalists

– Carol Angela Orchard was there providing in-house commentary. She was encouraging and positive, but it was a bit much at times….

– Some medal presenters of note: Nellie Kim, Steve Butcher, Denzil Minnan-Wong (deputy mayor of Toronto), and PanAm organizing committee members.

– Elsa Garcia and another Mexican gymnast (Ahtziri Sandoval?) were sitting at a table in the foyer of the arena after the competition.

– Judge Leyanet Gonzalez (CUB) was thrilled when fellow Cuban Marcia Videaux Jimenez won vault. She applauded wildly when her name appeared in first place in the official results. She continued applauding with her hands above her head even when everyone else had long stopped.