Shewfelt flips over new fame

ANGELA MacISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

Kyle Shewfelt is on quite a ride and he doesn't want to get off any time soon.

"I've been so busy," the 22-year-old gymnast said last night at the Olympic, Paralympic and Alberta Athlete of the Year Salute held at McMahon Stadium's Red and White Club. "My girlfriend (Melissa Mitzner) and I went to Mexico for a week when I got back from Athens. But then, I was in Edmonton, Whistler, Toronto ...

"I was doing the Country Music Awards, MuchMusic, (TSN's) Off the Record. Yesterday, I co-hosted the Big Breakfast."

But, he admitted, he's loving the whirlwind brought on by his recent gold-medal performance in the floor exercise in Athens.

"I'm having so much fun," he said. "I'm really enjoying myself."

Most of all, Shewfelt said he feels a duty, knowing the appearances are an opportunity to influence young athletes.

"I know how inspired I was by Olympians and Olympic champions," said Shewfelt, who now has his sights set on a world championship.

David Ford, an Edmonton kayaker who placed fourth in the K-1 in Athens and the 2000 Sydney Olympics, would love the opportunity for another shot at a medal.

He's won every championship in his event, except the Olympics.

"There's a spot in the trophy case that's empty," the 37-year-old said, noting he has no plans to retire yet. "It would be nice to have (an Olympic) medal in there."

That means he intends to be in Beijing in 2008, a course on which he won a World Cup.

"I was always going to race in the world championships next year in Australia," he said. "I don't think I've gotten to the best that I can, I don't think I'm the fastest or the fittest."

Same goes for Grant Golding. After helping Canada finish 11th in team gymnastics, the 23-year-old knows he has a lot more to prove.

He got back into the gym after a two-week rest after Athens, getting ready for the Elite Canada meet at Mount Royal College Dec. 9-12.

"I was a little bit low with the motivation but every week has gotten better," Golding said. "As soon as we finished, I knew the things I needed to correct for next time."

The Alberta open athletes of the year honoured last night were speed skater Jeremy Wotherspoon and skeleton race Michelle Kelly. In junior, it was hammer thrower James Steacy and sailor Keamia Rasa.


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