Olympian Ellie Black inspiring next generation of gymnasts

Carole Morris-Underhill editor@hantsjournal.ca
Published on December 10, 2016

Whether it was taking selfies or parents snapping photos with cellphones, Olympian Ellie Black was likely the most photographed person in Windsor Dec. 10.

©Carole Morris-Underhill

WINDSOR, N.S. - Nine-year-old Ellie-Mae Rayner didn't know she would be meeting her gymnastic idol Saturday morning in Windsor.

The Enfield girl's parents surprised her with a visit to the Olympus Gymnastics Academy Dec. 10, where Olympian Ellie Black was visiting.

Like many children who met Black, it was a thrill.

“Since she saw her in the Rio Olympics, she really idolizes Ellie Black. She inspires her a lot to move on and achieve more and more,” said Peter Rayner.

The family will be travelling to the Canada Games Centre in February to watch Black in action.

As a surprise, Peter Rayner and Tina Didlock brought their nine-year-old daughter Ellie-Mae Rayner, from Enfield, to Windsor Dec. 10 to meet her idol, Olympian Ellie Black.

©Carole Morris-Underhill

Ellie Black finds a place to bear down on as Jessica Myles gets her autograph.
Carole Morris-Underhill

Black made history at the 2016 Summer Olympics. The 21-year-old Halifax-based gymnast placed fifth in the women's individual all-around competition – the highest place finish for a Canadian gymnast.

Black spent much of the Dec. 10 event meeting her fans, signing autographs and posing for photos. She said meeting with her young fans and inspiring them to reach for the stars is rewarding.

“That's one of the reasons I love doing the sport that I'm doing is to hopefully inspire younger athletes, younger kids to find something that they're passionate about and to go for their dreams,” said Black. “It doesn't really matter where you come from. As long as you have those goals and you work hard, you can achieve your dreams.”

Windsor Mayor Anna Allen said Black serves as an inspiration not only to young athletes, but to everyone.

“She inspires me as well. I love it when a young woman does well,” said Allen after meeting Black.

Windsor Mayor Anna Allen and Olympus Gymnastics Academy founder Hugh Smith pose with 21-year-old Olympian Ellie Black, who was in town for a special meet-and-greet with young athletes.

©Carole Morris-Underhill

Hugh Smith, the founder of Olympus Gymnastics, is friends with Black and invited her to the club's fall session wrap up party. They both train at the Halifax Alta Gymnastics Club.

“I thought why not bring Ellie Black down – an Olympian – and just inspire the kids to keep going, to keep practicing and just give them that message of keep working hard and keep following your dreams,” said Smith.

“That's what we like to do here at Olympus – find the potential in the kids and help them work towards their goals.”

He said gymnastics is a sport that any child can participate in.

“It's known as a foundation sport, which is basically teaching them all the fundamentals that they can use for any other sports that they may pursue in the future or if they like gymnastics, to continue with,” said Smith. “It's a sport for every kid. I encourage all of the parents to look into the club.”

Young gymnast Amelia Maynard, from Hants Border, watches as Olympian Ellie Black signs a photograph.

©Carole Morris-Underhill

Award winning gymnast Ellie Black was in high demand Dec. 10 as youths flocked to meet their idol and get her autograph.

©Carole Morris-Underhill

Children at the Olympus Gymnastics Academy in Windsor met with Olympian Ellie Black Dec. 10.

©Carole Morris-Underhill