Golden touch is back

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:25 AM ET

It didn't take long for those watching to see gymnast Kyle Shewfelt hasn't missed a beat.

Competing for the first time since winning gold on the floor at the 2004 Olympics, Shewfelt nailed his vault for a perfect 10 from the judges yesterday at the U of C.

Suffice it to say, the Calgary gym wiz is back in fine form as he competes at the men's Commonwealth Games trials.

"I just say that vault's named after me, it's called the Shewfelt, so I'd better be able to do it well," the 23-year-old said with a laugh.

Shewfelt was also solid on the floor and high bar at the trials, which feature Edmonton's Brandon O'Neill, riding high after winning a silver medal on the floor at the world championships in November. Also competing are Calgarians Grant Golding, Adam Wong and Nathan Gafuik, David Kikuchi of Halifax, N.S., and Ken Ikeda of Abbotsford, B.C.

The top-two overall after the competition get an automatic berth on the five-man team which will go to the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, March 15-26. The rest of the team will be selected off performances in individual events. The trials wrap up tomorrow.

For the last year and a half, Shewfelt's been busy with speaking engagements, buying a house with girlfriend Melissa Mitzner and training. So he was understandably anxious before competing yesterday.

"I'm always nervous before any competition and I guess I'm 18 months away but I was nervous because I have a lot of expectation to do well and I wanted to show that I'm still capable of winning world and Olympic medals," said Shewfelt, who also finished fourth on vault in Athens, narrowly missing a bronze medal after some spotty judging.

After the 2004 Games, he took some time off to ponder his future. After some soul searching, Shewfelt realized he still wants to wear the Maple Leaf and stay on top.

"I kept feeling guilty because I wasn't competing but looking back it was the best decision I could have made," he said. "I had time to do some other things and realize I do want to still be an active competitor and I still want to represent this country and help this team do well."

He said winning gold on floor and finishing fourth on vault in 2004 in Athens were great performances but he knows there's more in the tank.

"I can still be better and that's my new challenge," said Shewfelt, who now trains with Tony Smith at the U of C. "That's the motivation now."


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