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COLUMNISTS

Sat, August 14, 2004

He'll toe the line


ATHENS -- It's been four years since Kyle Shewfelt crossed the line. Making his first Olympic appearance in Sydney, the pumped-up Calgarian mistakenly allowed a small portion of his foot to step out of bounds at the tail end of his first pass.

It earned him an automatic deduction that cost him a shot in the finals.

"I didn't really know because I was so focused," said the

22-year-old following yesterday's final preparations for today's events.

"I looked up at the scoreboard when I finished and saw a one-tenth of a point deduction and I was confused. My toe went out.

"It was a little mistake. It can happen to anybody but it's pretty fluky when it does."

Admittedly upset by the error and the 12th-place finish, Shewfelt chose not to dwell on it, bouncing back to win two golds and a silver at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, to go with his pair of bronzes (vault, floor) at the 2003 Worlds.

"I wanted to qualify for the (Olympic) final but I was pretty young (18) and I was just really happy to be there," said Shewfelt, a serious challenger to win Canada's first Olympic medal in artistic gymnastics.

"But, this time, I'm here to win a medal for Canada.

"I've been focused on it for four years now and I'm not worried at all about what happened in Sydney."

Insisting an ankle injury that has plagued him most of the year is now completely healed, the 5-ft. 4-in., 135-lb. team captain is excited the competition will open this morning with the vault, one of his two specialties.

"It's a good way for the whole team to start," said Shewfelt, a floor wizard who will also compete in the rings and high bar.

"Having all these expectations on me is really hard but I'm honoured."

As part of his preparation for today's opening qualifications, the 22-year-old Shewfelt elected to sit out last night's opening ceremony, watching a bit of it on TV with Calgary teammates Grant Golding and Adam Wong as well as Montreal's Alexander Jeltkov, Nova Scotia's David Kikuchi and Abbotsford's Ken Ikeda.

"Somebody at home is probably taping it and I'll watch the whole thing when I get home," said Shewfelt, laughing.

"I'll be in the closing ceremony, which makes it easier to deal with."

And he plans to carry his medal with him.

The women start their competition tomorrow and Calgarian Kylie Stone is reportedly fine after falling heavily during training Thursday on the uneven bars.

"She freaked herself out a bit because any time you fall it's scary," said Shewfelt.

"But she's OK."


Does Canada's low-medal haul in Athens bother you?
Yes, it depresses me
No, it's just sports
I'm disappointed, but not worried
We'll get 'em in Turin
Don't care

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