June 3, 2012 - 4:12am By MONTY MOSHER Sports Reporter
Alta Gymnast Ellie Black and paddler Mark de Jonge, both of Halifax, took top honours Saturday at the 16th annual Ricoh Sports Awards, which recognize the best in Nova Scotia amateur athletics.
Black and de Jonge are both contenders for the 2012 Olympics in London. The 16-year-old Black will compete for her spot on Canada’s gymnastics team later this month in Gatineau, Que., while de Jonge, who is coming back strong from a broken finger in April, will get his chance at the final Canadian trials in Montreal.
Black was in against track star Jenna Martin and sailor Danielle Dube. Dube has been nominated to the Olympic team and Martin is a good bet to be in London.
“I was surprised,” Black said in an interview following the ceremony in Halifax. “It was amazing.”
Paddlers Mariah Godin of Dartmouth and Emily Riddle of Porters Lake are the team of the year.
Hockey player Alexis Crossley of Cole Harbour is the female team athlete of the year and paddler Connor Taras of Waverley the male team athlete of the year.
Waverley’s Czom Latorovski (paddling) is the top coach. Warren Nethercote of Boutiliers Point is the top official for his work in sailing and the Truro Lions athletics program won for top association.
Sport Makes a Difference Awards went to New Minas judo athlete Jessica Hale and the Millbrook Warriors lacrosse program. Middleton’s Al Peppard, who is originally from Truro, took the Sport Nova Scotia Chair Award.
Black missed the first half of the 2011 season after surgery for a dislocated and broken toe. She came back late in the year, but dislocated her elbow and fractured her thumb at a competition in France.She battled back again to finish first on vault, third on beam and ninth all around at the Elite Canada competition in February. She followed that up in March at the Gymnix International where she finished second all around, first on vault, second on beam and fourth on floor.
“If the first injury had not healed properly then I might not have been able to do gym any more,” she said. “Coming back from that and having to deal with another injury was really hard, but to push through and have people supporting me through that and to come this far, even that is just such a great accomplishment.”
The Citadel High student has continued her burst toward London with four gold medals in April in international competitions in Brazil and Croatia.
“So far this year has been amazing,” said Black. “Every opportunity has just been the best thing that has happened so far.”
The 28-year-old Mark de Jonge, a civil engineer, came back to sprint kayaking in 2011 after a short absence and was racing toward London when a training accident left him sidelined for a series of recent World Cup events.
He was sixth at the world championships in Hungary in the K-1 200 last year, qualifying Canada for the Olympics in the event. He followed up with a bronze medal last summer at the Olympic test event in London. At a World Cup regatta in Duisburg, Germany, he finished third in the K-1 200 and second in the K-1 4x200m relay.
Godin and Riddle combined to win the C-2 500 at the inaugural world junior women’s canoe championships in Germany. Crossley was the lone Nova Scotian on Canada’s gold-medal team at the IIHF under-18 world women’s championships in the Czech Republic and also won national gold at Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school in Minnesota.
Taras earned a silver medal at the Pan American Games as a member of Canada's K-4 1,000 team.
Latorovski has been coaching for 34 years and has helped numerous paddlers to the top of the sport.
Nethercote is a 30-year sailing official who also won the award in 2004-05. The highlight of his year was being selected as a member of the international jury for the 2011 Etchells world championships in San Diego.
The Truro Lions, led by coach Paul Millman, broke provincial records last summer. In July, the Lions became the only Athletics Nova Scotia club to have two athletes on a national team when Kayla Gallagher and Peter Millman earned spots on Canada’s World Youth Games team.
Also congratulations to Maskwa's congratulations Alexa Irvin who was nominated in the top women's