Kyle Shewfelt has another attraction to help decorate his new Calgary home. The gold medallist in the floor exercise at the 2004 Athens Games was unpacking boxes yesterday when he learned he's been named winner of the Lionel Conacher Male Athlete of the Year Award.
"It's extremely exciting for me," Shewfelt said. "This year was just like a dream."
The 22-year-old Shewfelt eclipsed fellow Calgarians Jarome Iginla of the Flames and PGA Tour star Stephen Ames in voting after becoming the first Canadian to win an Olympic artistic gymnastics medal.
"I'm super-excited," Shewfelt said of the athlete of the year award.
"This is a great way to end the year. It's a way to move into 2005."
Shewfelt should have been awarded another medal at Athens, but questionable judging cost him a bronze in the vault.
After enjoying a "much-needed" two-month break, Shewfelt is training at the University of Calgary under Olympic team coach Tony Smith after previous coach Kelly Manjak moved to Ontario.
Shewfelt plans to return to competition in the spring while focusing on the 2005 world championships in November.
"Some days I think, 'Did I really accomplish such a huge goal in my life?' " he said of his Athens performance.
Shewfelt finished the voting with 139 points, seven ahead of Martin St. Louis of the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
St. Louis received 30 first-place votes, two more than Shewfelt, but the Olympian earned 18 second-place and 19 third-place votes. St. Louis had 13 second-place votes and 16 thirds.
Kayaker Adam van Koeverden, who won a gold and a bronze at Athens, also had 28 first-place votes in finishing third.
The Athlete of the Year is selected by The Canadian Press and Broadcast News.