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Ellie Black leads Canada to 2016 Olympic berth in women’s gymnastics

After placing fifth on the first day of qualification Friday, the Canadian squad had to wait for the remaining countries to compete on Saturday to see if their score would be enough secure the top-eight finish needed to qualify directly for the Olympics.

Two-time world all-around champion Simone Biles led the powerful U.S. squad to first place in the 24-country event with a score of 236.611 points. Russia finished a distant second with 231.437 points and Great Britain was third at 227.162.

The Canadian squad took seventh place with 222.780 points followed by the Netherlands with a score of 222.354 to grab the last Olympic spot.

“It’s the best feeling ever, the kids were fantastic,” said Canadian coach Lorie Henderson of Brandon, Man.

Countries ranked ninth to 16th will get a final chance to qualify for the Olympics next April in Rio where four more teams will earn a spot at the Games.

Canada’s top-eight finish in the qualification also earned a spot in the world championship team final on Tuesday.

In addition to leading Canada into the team event, Ellie Black also qualified for the individual all-around and beam finals later in the competition, qualifying fourth and third respectively.

“It was a little bit stressful waiting to hear the final results but I think we did a great job in preparing and coming together as a team,” said Black.

“We’re all just excited to get back out there in the team final. It’s a good opportunity to get some more experience as we move forward and it’s going to help everyone as we prepare for Rio next summer.”

Isabela Onyshko of Brandon, Man., also advanced to the all-around final grabbing the last spot in a field of 24 competitors.

“I feel I made some improvements and my team did really well so I’m happy about that,” said Onyshko. “In the final I’d like to go in and be a bit more relaxed about the whole process and to enjoy it and have fun.”

Other members of the Canadian team are Sydney Townsend of Conestogo, Ont., Audrey Rousseau of La Prairie, Que., 2012 Olympic veteran Brittany Rogers of Calgary, and 2014 world championship team member Victoria-Kayen Woo of Brossard, Que.

Rousseau, one of two world championship rookies on the Canadian team along with Townsend, said, “It was a great experience to be with the team and to help qualify Canada for Rio.”

Competition continues on Sunday with the first day of the men’s qualification. The Canadian men’s team competes on Monday.

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