For more than three decades, Canada’s top artistic gymnasts have had to travel the globe to compete at the world championships.
That all changes this fall.
On Thursday, Gymnastics Canada revealed the women and men who will wear the maple leaf in Montreal, October 2-8.
Leading the way is Ellie Black, who won her fourth senior all-around title at the national championships in late May, where she also won gold in floor exercise. Joining her will be two of her Rio 2016 teammates and fellow national champions: Shallon Olsen, who won gold on vault, and Isabela Onyshko, who placed first on beam. Rounding out the squad is first-year senior competitor Brooklyn Moors, whose older sister Victoria represented Canada at London 2012.
“I am looking forward to hopefully representing Canada at the world championships in Montréal this fall,” Black said after the nationals. “It’s not every day that you get to compete at a big competition such as the world championships on home soil in front of family and friends. To be a part of that team would be an incredible experience and I would be looking to do the best I could for my team and Canadian gymnastics.”
In his first competition since Rio 2016, where he was Canada’s lone male artistic gymnast, Scott Morgan earned a pair of gold medals at the nationals, winning the rings outright and finishing in a first-place tie on floor exercise. The new men’s all-around champion is Zachary Clay, who has been competing as a senior for five years but was participating in his first nationals after some tough luck with injuries. The all-around runner-up was last year’s champion, Jackson Payne, who claimed gold medals on parallel bars and high bar while Thierry Pellerin won the pommel horse.
All four of those men were named to the world championship team following an evaluation camp where their performances, potential for improvement, consistency and the ability to deal with stress were taken into account. Three other men are still under consideration for the final two spots: Rene Cournoyer, Kevin Lytwyn, and Samuel Paquin. The final nominations will be known by September 4.
Those selected will now compete at the first FIG World Artistic Gymnastics Championships to be held in Canada since 1985. That event, also in Montreal, marked the first time Canada had hosted the worlds since they began in 1903. This fall the city welcomes the 47th edition.
Black got a taste of what it’s like to compete in a big event at home thanks to the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games. Two summers ago, she was Canada’s most decorated athlete of those Games with her five medals, including the first all-around gold by a Canadian gymnast since 1979.
“It was one of the most amazing competition experiences I’ve had. Nothing beats the whole crowd cheering for Team Canada,” Black said. “It was full of many good learning experiences and those will be good tools to look back on and to use going into the world championships. To have another opportunity to compete at home and show what Canada is capable of is very exciting.”
Since making her Olympic debut five years ago, Black has seen the sport of gymnastics change and grow. Thanks in large part to her performances, Canada is now one of the countries to watch. She was a member of Canada’s best-ever fifth place finish in the team event at London 2012 and set another Canadian standard with her individual fifth place finish in the all-around at Rio 2016. The most recent Olympic Games also featured apparatus finals appearances from Olsen on vault and Onyshko on beam.
In Montreal, Black hopes to improve upon her seventh place finish in the all-around from the last worlds in 2015, which was also a best-ever for Canada.
The Canadian team will be joined by more than 500 gymnasts from 80 countries over the week-long competition at Olympic Stadium. Watching it all will be one of the stars of Montreal 1976, Nadia Comaneci, who is the official spokesperson for the event in her return to the city where she earned the first ever perfect 10.
If you want to be among the anticipated 50,000 spectators who will attend the world championships, full details on ticket packages and pricing are available at mtl2017gymcan.com.
In this post-Olympic year, there is no team event on the schedule but individual medals will be up for grabs in the all-arounds and on each of the four women’s apparatus and six men’s apparatus.
With files from Anne-Frédérique Hébert-Dolbec