Tue, August 26, 2008

Shew-per experience

Despite not medalling, Beijing was rewarding

By ROD KELLY -- Sun Media

The only thing Kyle Shewfelt appeared disappointed about after returning home from the 2008 Summer Olympic Games last night was that he was a no-show for the celebration marking his return from Beijing.

"I missed my party," said Shewfelt upon arriving a few hours later than his scheduled afternoon return to the Calgary International Airport.

"My family had a party planned for me. It would have been so much fun."

Flight delays may have held up the Calgary athletes getting home, but they didn't stop those closest to Shewfelt and fellow Calgary gymnast Adam Wong from showing their love last night.

As many as 50 cheered as Shewfelt and Wong greeted family and friends.

Calgary's hero of the 2004 Games in Athens, Shewfelt's dream of returning home with more hardware this time around was not meant to be, but the 26-year-old said his third Olympic Games will go down in his books as one of the most memorable times of his athletic career.

He described his unexpected return to the world's biggest sporting stage as an opportunity to conquer the "insurmountable," and said he believes competing in Beijing was a victory in itself.

Only months ago, Shewfelt was wheelchair-bound with two broken legs. He quickly rebounded in 11 months time and was only able to do his first full routine a month and half before this year's Olympics.

"In 2000, Sydney was a chance for me to exper- ience the Games, to learn," he said.

"And 2004 was my dream come true. But at these Games, I had new challenges and this was a success for me, not a failure."

Shewfelt's gold in the floor routine in 2004 was a first-ever for the Canadian men's artistic gymnastics program.

This year, the 26-year-old didn't get to the individual finals competition. He chose to take in the Olympic experience, helped with broadcasting the Games, and supported his teammates, like Wong, whose 15th place finish in all-round competition was Canada's best.

"In a way, there was more pressure, being an Olympic champ," said Shewfelt.

"But you earn that. I went out and did the best I could do, and I am so proud. I like seeing the positive in things, and right now I'm looking at the positives.

"The Games in Beijing were phenomenal and the experience was very rewarding for me."

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VOICES FROM THE GAMES