Canada's women’s gymnasts clinch Olympic berth

A jubilant Canadian women’s gymnastics team clinched a berth at the 2016 Olympic Games on Saturday with a seventh place finish in the qualification round at the artistic gymnastics world championships.

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.” 

Rogers, a gymnastics star at the University of Georgia and former Team BC member, returned to the Canadian national team last summer determined to earn another chance at the Olympics.

“I was full of nerves at the beginning but now I’m just excited,” said Rogers, who delivered the team’s top scores on uneven bars and vault. “I think we did a great job and knowing that we can build on that is great. I’m just humbled to be able to represent my country again.”

Other members of the Canadian team are Sydney Townsend (Ont), Audrey Rousseau (Que) and 2014 world championship team member Victoria-Kayen Woo (Que). 

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