Gymnastics

Ellie Black withdraws from gymnastics all-around final after reinjuring ankle

Canadian gymnast Ellie Black has withdrawn from the women's all-around final scheduled for Thursday because of an injury she suffered during training, Gymnastics Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee announced Wednesday.

Gymnast sprained her left ankle during training on Tuesday

Ellie Black competes in the balance beam during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Sunday. She is out of the all-around final after spraining her ankle in training. (Leah Hennel/COC/The Canadian Press)

Canadian gymnast Ellie Black has withdrawn from the women's all-around final scheduled for Thursday after she reinjured her left ankle, which she originally sprained less than a month before the start of these Tokyo Olympics.

It happened during a training session on Tuesday, she told reporters over a Zoom press conference on Wednesday. Black was practicing on the beam and ended up "a bit crooked" on the dismount, she said, landing a bit short. She suffered the same injury as last month, a sprain of the deltoid ligament, and a bone bruise.

With the women's all-around final scheduled for two days later, she made the decision to withdraw to rest and get treatment in the hopes of returning for the beam final on Aug. 3.

"I wish more than anything I could have been out on on the floor and competing," she said. 

Black teared up when asked how emotionally devastating it is to go through yet another injury.

She noted that it's been a hard year for athletes to prepare to compete during pandemic-related lockdowns and travel restrictions, with few if any competitions.

Adding the ankle sprain in June to that mix, she said, meant preparation was less than ideal.

"I've been through a lot of ups and downs and it's just another one of those that we have to overcome, and I'm glad it wasn't worse than it is," she said through tears.

"It's tough. It really sucks."

Black will be replaced in the finals by Dutch gymnast Lieke Wevers, according to the International Gymnastics Federation.

With Black out, Brooklyn Moors of Cambridge, Ont., will be the only Canadian competing in the all-around final. Black said she will be in attendance, cheering on Moors.

'Weight of the world'

The 25-year-old from Halifax, one of Canada's most decorated gymnasts, is competing in her third Olympics. She placed fifth in the women's individual all-around final at the Rio Games in 2016, the best-ever result for a Canadian in the event. In 2017, she won a silver medal in the all-around final at the world championships in Montreal, becoming Canada's first medallist in that event at the worlds.

Black reacts after competing on the balance beam during the women's individual all-around final at the 2016 Rio Olympics at Rio Olympic Arena on Aug. 11, 2016. Black placed fifth in the all-around event, the best-ever result by a Canadian. (File/Getty Images)

The year-long delay of Tokyo 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic proved advantageous for Black, who tore ligaments in her right ankle while landing a vault during the 2019 world championships in Stuttgart. She had ankle surgery a month later and returned to competition in early 2020.

It wasn't long before the pandemic took hold and the International Olympic Committee and organizers in Japan agreed to postpone the Games for a year. That gave Black's ankle more time to heal.

Black's injury and withdrawal came hours after reigning Olympic champion Simone Biles took herself out of the all-around competition to focus on her mental health.

WATCH | Breaking down Simone Biles and Ellie Black withdrawing from all-around final:

Breaking down Simone Biles and Ellie Black withdrawing from the all-around final

3 months ago
6:33
Team Canada gymnast Victoria Woo explains how Biles' absence will affect the event, and the reasoning behind Black's decision. 6:33

Asked Wednesday about Biles's decision, Black praised her fellow gymnast for being able to "recognize what she needs" and do what's best for herself, despite being under intense scrutiny as a star of the Tokyo Games.

"First and foremost is remembering that we are all just human before athletes. Just regular people, we train at the highest level, we compete at the highest level," she said.

"Sometimes it feels like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders and there's a lot of expectations and pressure."

She noted that the pandemic has taken a toll on everyone, not just athletes, but when it comes to competitors at the Games, "it's not just one athlete that's struggling."

"You almost don't realize how hard it has been and then it kind of hits you all at once," she said. "Not doing this for so long and then going into the biggest level of competition — that's a lot that weighs on you and it's exhausting."

With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press

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