By Steve Keating
LIMA (Reuters) – Gymnast Ellie Black, who was the most decorated Canadian athlete at the 2015 Pan Am Games with five medals including the coveted all-around title, said on Saturday she would be just as happy this year to return home empty handed.
That won’t happen with Black helping Canada to a team silver at the Villa El Salvador arena behind the United States, who defended their crown with another dominating display posting a winning total of 171 more than 10 points clear of their northern neighbours.
But Black just might have no gold to declare when she steps up to Canadian customs at the end of Lima Pan Ams and that would be just fine with the 23-year-old.
“I would be just as happy,” Black told Reuters when asked if she would feel any different than she did in 2015.
The Canadian will be hard pressed to keep from surrendering her all-around title to the U.S. on Monday and then will need to be at her best to retain her gold on the balance beam and floor exercise from 2015.
Black’s laissez-faire tone should, however, not be mistaken for an unmotivated athlete.
One might get that impression looking at Black’s packed trophy case that, along with her Pan Am Games haul, includes three gold, two silvers and a bronze mined from two Commonwealth Games and a world championship all-around silver, the first ever by a Canadian.
But the fact is Black has set a higher goal and the Pan Am Games are a step towards that objective — qualifying Canada in the team event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
If Canada is to qualify for Tokyo it will need a top 12 result at the worlds that will be held in Stuttgart in early October.
“We accomplished what we wanted to, it really wasn’t a medal it was really more about going out there being a team and trying to hit some good routines,” Black told Reuters. “We are really geared toward the team competition.
“Coming into these Games, compared to the last Games, is totally different, different competition, different team, different atmosphere so just really using this time as practise for our world championships.
“That’s the most important competition for us as we try to qualify for a team for the Olympics.”
(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)