Ellie Black first in all-around qualifications at gymnastics worlds

Canada's Ellie Black (Gregory Bull/AP Photo)

MONTREAL — Ellie Black remains Canada’s best hope to medal at the world artistic gymnastics championships after a dominant qualifying session.

Black finished first in all-around qualifications on Tuesday after two qualifying sessions at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. There are three more sessions on Wednesday, which include powerhouses China and the United States. The top 24 gymnasts advance to the final.

"Today was awesome and I was so proud of all the girls," said Black, the five-time Canadian champion. "Not everything was perfect but I was able to get through the four events today and get a feel for that competition. Hopefully there are some more competitions to look forward to the rest of the week.

"My goal in any competition is to be strong and confident and attack my routines the best I possibly can. I was very pleased with my performances today."

The Halifax native is also on track to progress in some of the individual events, where the top eight gymnasts reach the final. Black finished first on the balance beam, third on the vault and third in the floor exercises.

"We still have to wait until tomorrow but it’s an incredible thing to have such a great day of competition today," said the 22-year-old. "I’m very happy with the progress that I’ve been able to make.

"Canada is a top country in the world in gymnastics and we want to keep building and pushing."

Black’s teammates also had a good day in front of the cheering home crowd.

Brooklyn Moors of Cambridge, Ont., finished second in the floor exercises and seventh in all-around competition. She could squeak by in both categories after Wednesday’s qualifiers.

"I did make some mistakes but I’m happy I did because now I can work for those," said Moors. "I know what I need to do in the next couple of days or in the future."

The 16-year-old would have fared better in the all-around standings but she lost most of her points on the balance beam.

"I’m learning to control the nerves," she said. "It’s all new for me. I went from not a lot of difficulty to a lot of difficulty in a short amount of time, so I’m just gaining experience on how to handle that."

Vancouver’s Shallon Olsen, 17, finished second on the vault. The judges deemed her second jump was the most difficult jump attempted in the evening’s qualifying session.

"Definitely amazing, a good feeling of overwhelmingness," said Olsen. "Sticking my second vault was what made me feel really great afterwards. And all the excitement from the crowd got me pumped up. Once I landed it, it was an awesome feeling of representing my country.

"There’s no real way to describe it."

Black and Moors are the only two Canadian women eligible for the all-around finals.

Olsen only performed on the floor and the vault. Meanwhile Isabela Onyshko, who was initially supposed to compete in all four disciplines, pulled out of the vault and floor exercises with a calf injury.

Elena Eremina of Russia finished second in the all-around, nearly a full point behind leader Black. Nina Derwael of Belgium was third.

Eremina led the way in the uneven bars while country mate Maria Paseka was first in the vault. Claudia Fragapane of Great Britain narrowly beat out Moors for top spot in the floor exercises.

Earlier in the day, Zachary Clay of Chilliwack, B.C., became the only Canadian on the men’s side who qualified to the all-around finals. Clay finished 23rd in all-around competition.

Canada has won eight medals at the world artistic gymnastics championships (three silver and five bronze) but has never won gold. The country’s last two medals came in 2006 when Kyle Shewfelt (floor) and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs (balance beam) each won bronze.