'Wealth of talent

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:15 AM ET

There's not much for Calgary gymnast Kyle Shewfelt to complain about these days.

After all, the 2004 Olympic gold medallist on floor is about to begin the Commonwealth Games, his first major competition since the Athens Olympics.

Already in Melbourne, Australia, to prepare for the Games, which start Wednesday, Shewfelt can only gripe about the searing, unrelenting heat Down Under.

"Man it's hot," he said in phone interview. "It's like 36 degrees here. What's it like in Calgary?"

Let's just say it's not weather fitting for a major athletic competition, which is primarily held outdoors. But Mother Nature won't be a factor anyway for Shewfelt and the rest of the Canadian men's gymnastics team, which is going in with big expectations.

In fact Shewfelt, 24, along with Calgary's Grant Golding, Nathan Gafuik, Adam Wong and Halifax's David Kikuchi believe they'll not only leave Australia with a suntan, they're hoping to carry away a boatload of medals as well.

"We could come out with six or seven medals," said a confident Shewfelt, who will compete on floor, vault, high bar and the team event when the gymnastics competition starts Thursday.

"The team event is the priority for us. The main thing is to hit in that competition and help ourselves get the gold medal we deserve as a team."

All four will compete in the team competition with the top three scores on each apparatus counting towards the final tally.

At the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England, the Canadian men earned a silver medal, while Shewfelt won individual gold on floor and vault.

With that, the tumbler said he isn't as concerned about his individual performance, although he'll still be a heavy favourite on floor and vault.

Don't forget Shewfelt was fourth on vault at the Athens Olympics, just missing a bronze medal after some judging irregularities. He was edged off the podium by Marian Dragulescu despite the fact the Romanian badly muffed his landing.

But at the Commonwealth Games, the chances of tainted or corrupt judging are slim to none with no Eastern European countries competing and a new scoring code in effect.

Shewfelt said that's a major difference between these Games and the mother of all amateur competition, the Olympics.

"The Commonwealth Games is like the Olympics but on a much smaller scale," he said. "You don't have all the European countries. You don't have China, Korea, Japan or the States. It's a small, friendly Games mostly between Canada, Great Britain and Australia.

"It's not as intense as the Olympics."

Since becoming the first Canadian to win an Olympic medal in artistic gymnastics, Shewfelt took some time off, did a bunch of speaking engagements and appearances, and didn't compete until the Commonwealth Trials in Calgary last month.

He showed no rust, though, scoring a perfect 10 on the vault. Interestingly, his vault, the Shewfelt -- a Yurchenko with two and a half twists -- is named after him when he became the first person to land it several years ago.

Since Shewfelt has been training like there's no tomorrow and he pronounced himself ready for Melbourne.

"I'm feeling pumped and I'm feeling confident right now,"said Shewfelt, who is likely to compete in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.

But first things first -- Team Canada's gymnastics team is hoping to buzz a few metal detectors on their way back home.

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5 CALGARIANS TO WATCH

* JESSICA ZELINKA

Age: 25

Heptathalon

Notable: Ranked No. 1 in Canada, 14th in world

Accolades: She's a three-time CIS gold medallist.

Look for her: March 21

* MIKE BROWN

Age: 21

Swimming

Notable: Will swim 50, 100, 200 breast-stroke, 4x100 medley relay

Accolades: Won silver at the 2005 worlds in 200m breast-stroke.

Look for him: Sat., Sun., March 20-21.

* HELEN NICHOL & CHARMAINE REID

Badminton doubles team

Accolades: They medalled at the 2003 Pan Am Games

Look for them: Thursday-Saturday, March 20

* CAM MACKINNON

Age: 21

Cycling

Notable: Is the reigning individual Canadian sprint champion.

Accolades: He finished 10th at the world championships in 2004.

Look for him: Saturday and Sunday

* MALINDI ELMORE

Age: 26

1,500 metres

Notable: Competed at 2004 Olympics

Accolades: Finished fourth in the 2004 Gold Games in Rome, where she set a personal best of 4:02.64 in the 1,500m.

Look for her: March 21


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