Thursday, December 25, 2008

International Gymnast Magazine Interview


Interview: Kyle Shewfelt (CAN)

Happy Holidays

Just a quick note to wish everyone a holiday that is overflowing with laughter, hugs, joy, smiles, happiness and love...oh, and wine too!


I am in such a grand place right now. I don't think I have ever felt such a sense of contentment, balance and positive perspective. Hawaii was brilliant (I think that's my new favourite word)! I just might need to retire there...am I too young to become a snow bird?

While I was away, I did a lot of reflecting and I just feel a real sense of ease at the moment. Everything is exactly as it should be. I have a lot to be thankful for. I need to inject each day with some fun! Living in the moment is so essential. Making a difference in the lives of others gives us the greatest sense of meaning in our own individual lives. Giving yourself a gift everyday is important as well, whether it be a workout, a massage, a meaningful conversation or some time to just breathe and slow it all down. It's so easy to get caught up in the blender of the world, spin out of control and forget what's important.

I have been trying to do some serious soul searching and get a grasp on my vision for the future. We sometimes think we know what we really want, but it turns out to be what we think we 'should' want. I don't want to fall victim to that. I don't want to feel obligated to go in a certain direction because it makes sense. I want to make sure that I live my life with intention, purpose, passion and authenticity.

I want to continually grow, evolve, learn and question.

I believe that 2009 is going to be a BRILLIANT year!

Stay tuned for some mind boggling posts. I'm on a rampage to make a difference in the world!

K.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Surgical Dressings...and some reflection

I am going in today to get the surgical dressings removed. My leg has been screaming for them to be gone! They are slowly melting away and I am excited to see the new scar that will be present underneath. Call me a masochist if you would like, but there is something exciting about seeing the carnage that exists underneath the bandage.

My leg is feeling pretty good. I have been trying to take it easy and not do too much activity that will aggravate it, but I have also been craving exercise and movement. Last night I did an amazing hot yoga class and although I could feel the dressing peeling away with each bead of sweat that permeated it, it felt incredible to stretch. I came home after the class and felt so invigorated and alive! In fact, I am going to another class tonight because I felt very connected to the world. I had a smile from ear to ear when I got home and, to me, that is pretty darn special.

I have been struggling lately with finding a balance. Some days I feel like I have it all figured out, but then other days I hear the grumble in my head and it starts to drive me a bit nuts. Our thoughts are very powerful. They say that our thoughts cause our actions, our actions lead to our experiences and our experiences become our lives. I want to live a positive, beautiful and remarkable life. I want to be confident, secure and know that I am making a difference. I always strive to be the type of person who radiates positive vibes. I want to be the smile and the embrace that makes everyone around them feel like the world and life in general is brilliant. I feel like, in a way, I have started to let the negative self talk take me away from being this person. I guess we all go through phases of doubt and uncertainty, but I am convinced that loving life and embracing the unknown without preconceived judgment will lead to ultimate happiness.

I am heading to Hawaii on Sunday for 2 weeks of rest and reflection. I need some solitude to start shaping some ideas. I feel like life can get so busy and we can become distracted by all of the "I should Be's". I booked this trip a little while back knowing that I would be feeling this way at this point in the year, especially post surgery and 3 months post Beijing. I have always had a keen understanding of myself and my needs. My ability to trust my gut has led me in a direction that I am very content with. But I have been thinking too much lately about what I should be doing and not about what I want to be doing. This needs to stop. I need to take some time to listen. The only place in the world that I have ever felt epiphanies and utter ease of mind has been in Hawaii. There; life slows down, the mind slows down and directions become more clear.

And I will leave it with that.

Enjoy your day and make sure to breathe, slow down, reflect and appreciate the beauty in your life.

Kyle

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Hardware

Ta Da!

Here is the picture I have been promising.

On the left, you see the plate and the 4 screws. On the right, I put my house key beside the metal just so you can have a basis for comparison. Now you'll think of the size of my plate every time you lock your door!

I am back at my place now. I came home last night and it felt great to sleep in my own bed. I feel 50 times better today than I did on Friday. Hallelujah!! It's crazy how much of a difference a couple of days can make.

I had my first shower yesterday afternoon and there was a constant stream of blood running down my leg. It was a little nasty, but it was all of the dried blood getting washed away. I can't tell you how awesome it felt to get clean...being in hospitals makes me feel like I have disease running through my hair.

The great news is that if I continue to heal at this rate, I should be good to go and ready to get movin' in a week or so.

I went to a friends last night to watch Iron Man (It was ok, but didn't live up to the hype IMO) and I brought the hardware in to show it off. It was only in my car for 20 minutes max and when I pulled it out of the jar it was freezing cold. Brrrr. It's all coming together...now I know why my leg ached on those cold winter days last year! No doubt I was experiencing pain, that metal was as cold as ice.



Kyle

Friday, November 07, 2008

Ouch

I am sitting here at my parents place, in my old room - the one I lived in for 4 months during my initial recovery. The memories are flooding back. The sound of the crutches sticking to the hardwood floors, creating a clunking beat that is oh so familiar. The pillow on the chair in the kitchen to prop my leg up. The bags of ice. The bloody gauze (really bloody this time around). The containers of meds. The smell of toast with margarine....

I honestly thought that this surgery was going to be a breeze. Maybe it will be in a couple of days, but today it is more intense than I initially thought it would be. I am in a lot of pain. My leg is swollen and tight. My toes are stained yellow from the surgery. My leg is a little prickly from the hair that is trying to grow back after the stink cream burned it off.

I guess deep down I thought that I would get the plate out and everything would instantly be better, but that is not the case. This is going to be a battle and I don't think I adequately prepared myself to be tough. I woke up this morning and wanted to bend my leg so bad, but couldn't because I could feel the skin was taught and my knee was aching. It's almost as if my leg got slammed with a hammer and the aftermath is a bleeding, swollen and throbbing mess.

I'm going to take it easy for the next couple of days. A little R and R never hurts. I have a lot of movie watching to do! If you have any recommendations then please let me know. I am planning on checking out 'Iron Man' tomorrow night. I'm excited because I heard it's a gooder.

There's something else I wanted to mention. I had another flood of memories come rushing back to me yesterday at the hospital. I actually got a little emotional. I could feel the lump in my throat and my eyes welled up. Pain of another sort sank into my heart. When I was signing in at the admissions desk I had to answer all of the standard questions. Age, height, address, etc. Well, the last time I was at the hospital I had a different address. I was almost starting to forget that chapter in my life. But having to face this head on made me realize that so much has changed since last year at this time and it caught me off guard. Even though my mom was there as my trusted assistant (Love you mom!), I couldn't help but feel a little alone. Support of family and friends is so important and special, but it's just not the same as having someone that is 'your world' there to hold your hand. The lady asked me if a certain someone was still my emergency contact. Gulp. No, she isn't. But then I thought to myself that if I really needed her to be, she would be there in an instant. I know that for sure.

Life is ever changing, ever evolving and constantly moving forward. Once in a while though, you experience a moment when you look back and really miss what was.

K.

ps- I got my plate and the 4 screws that were in my leg (I thought I only had 2!). I'll take a photo and post it when I have my camera handy. It's really cool to think that they were in me less than 24 hours ago.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Plate Removal

Tomorrow is the BIG day! I am getting the plate removed from my left leg. I can't wait!

I am going to keep the screw in my right knee because I don't even notice it's there, but my left leg has been flaring up like a grass fire since the games. It has been causing me lots of discomfort and annoyance since Beijing. It's probably because I am not taking any anti-inflammatory meds and I haven't been as strictly focused on a gymnastic goal. Before Beijing, pain was not an option. Competing at the Olympics was all that mattered. I knew that I was going to experience discomfort and I just accepted it because I had to. Now, I have a little more freedom and time and I want that sucker out! I want to be able to lift my heel to my arse without feeling an extreme burning sensation across the front of my leg. I want to be able to do a hardcore workout and not have my leg swell up to twice it's size around the plate area.

My bones are completely healed so there should be no complications with the surgery and recovery. In fact, and I found this out in March when I was really struggling with the burning when I ran, I could have had the plate removed before the games. I chose not to because I couldn't afford any time away from the gym for recovery. Now though, I can take my time and rehab myself back to full strength with no imminent deadlines looming. I have actually set some recovery goals to help with my motivation. I want my legs to be stronger than they were before the accident. I want to have quads that are rock solid and defined. To be honest, I never achieved that in my initial recovery. My left leg is still much skinnier than the right, it's still slightly atrophied and all I can blame is the plate inhibiting my potential to put on muscle mass. I just couldn't push myself to that point of "burning muscle growth" because I had another kind of burn. It was nervy, excruciating and limiting.

So tomorrow is the day. I am excited, but quite nervous too. Surgery is a big deal. I am hopeful that I don't feel like dying again! My mom and dad are going to be my trusted assistants...Love them to death. I have to be put under and then the actual procedure itself takes less than an hour. Tonight I have to prep my leg, remove all the hair with a stinky depilatory cream and then not eat from midnight until the time of my surgery. I'm sure I won't sleep well as the memories of my last experience under the knife will most likely rush into mind and soul. It's hard to believe that this injury is finally coming full circle.

I also asked Dr.Mohtadi if I can keep the plate. Hopefully he remembers! I will post a pic of it if I do get my hands on it. I am trying to think of a good preservation idea. I might get a small shadow box to put the plate in and put it up in my office. I guess I could also put it in a zip lock baggy and keep it in my glove box! Whatever I choose to do, I think it's important to have constant reminders of our strength, courage and determination surrounding us. It's our journeys, our fight and the obstacles that we have overcome in the past that make us who we are today.

Kyle

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mountain Peak

I did a course today and we were asked to write a detailed description about an image very similar to this one. We could go in any direction our heart told us to. Some people were super positive and talked about the meaning, beauty and the accomplishment of reaching the peak. Some just touched the surface about the experience of climbing it and the sights, sounds and smells they could imagine.

Mine turned into something a little more morbid than I would have hoped, but I think it's a true reflection of some of the things I am dealing with right now.

"I put everything I had into conquering this massive beast. It meant the world to me. The vision I had of myself alone at the peak of existence, brilliant blue sky and crisp, tingling air touching my face was incredible. The journey to the top was beautiful. The challenge was overwhelming, consuming and it drove me beyond my preconceived limits. But now, as I am perched on an ash coloured boulder, I feel alone. I don't feel the serenity, solitude and calmness I expected. I feel empty and anxious. My toes are frozen. My heart is heavy. I am disappointed in myself because I have reached the ultimate and I can't appreciate it's marvel. Instead of being silent and content, breathing in every ounce of this dream, I am fixated on what comes next and how in the world I will make my way down."

What would you write about?

Kyle

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's been a while...

I literally have not signed in or typed the www.kyleshewfelt.blogspot.com address in over a month.

I don't know exactly why I have been avoiding it.

Last time I was here, I tried to complete my "Olympic Experience" post (still in the works). It brought incredible memories back to my heart, but it also felt like I was forcing myself to say what people wanted me to say. I never intended this to be a place where I told people what they wanted to hear...and I don't ever want it to be that.

I feel like I missed out on a beautiful opportunity to capitalize on the buzz that was created about this blog during the Games. I feel guilty that I didn't take advantage of that, but on the same page; I know that life most definitely will go on. Blogs don't make the world turn.

I'm sure many of you have been wondering what has been going on in my life post-Beijing. I'll be honest with you, it's been a mix of emotions. I am in a position where I am trying to figure it all out. What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? Who do I want to be? I was so singularly focused on the Olympics that I almost forgot that life does exist beyond sport. I have been taking a nice long break from training and trying to tend to the life I have beyond it. I have gone in to the gym, conditioned and played around, but I haven't done any real "gymnastics" in 2 months. The break has been nice and much needed. My body and brain were tired, in fact, they still are...an indication that I put absolutely everything I had into my Olympic prep.

Once the Olympic dust settles - a month or so after the Games actually end; it becomes particularly hard. You can't hide behind that 'Olympic' mask forever. That mask does become a really good excuse for not getting around to things. I have a list of a million and one things that need to get done that I just couldn't give any energy towards before the games. I'm slowly pecking away it, but it seems like the list just keeps getting longer and longer!

The good thing about today is that I am starting to feel the reemergence of the writer in me. It's kind of exciting actually...I feel like I am almost far enough removed from the Olympics that I can look back on it and know what went on. It's always a whirlwind and impossible to digest right away. Sometimes, for a while at least, the last thing you want to think about is the Olympics.

I do have many updates, lots of exciting news and some pretty deep thoughts roaming around in my head right now. One day soon, this blog train will start rollin' again...

Kyle

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Olym-pics #1

These are a few of my favourite shots from training and competition. Enjoy!

























Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Camping

This past weekend, I finally went on my long anticipated camping trip with a few close friends. The planning went back months and it was all done with the intention of limiting my distractions leading up to the Games. I knew all summer long that I would be spending September long with some of my best buddies and we would be having the camping experience of a lifetime!

Well, I don't know what the deep rooted meaning of this would be, but it rained and eventually snowed while we were on our adventure. It rained all of Sunday; it literally didn't stop once. Then on Monday morning when we awoke, the snow flakes were coming down. Brrrrrr. Wet and Cold = Cranky.

I tried to smile while my fingers were freezing off, but I have discovered during my limited camping experience that I am a fair weather camper. Bring on the sun, bring on the bugs, let me hike and relax in heat. I would much prefer to roast marshmallows and drink beer in shorts than in sweats, a hoodie, down vest, mittens and a toque! Don't get me wrong, I had fun (wonderful conversation overflowed and I haven't laughed so hard about smiling clowns in my life - inside joke) and I appreciate my friends taking the time to arrange this excursion, but I thought that camping was supposed to be 3 days of sunburns, hangovers and bug bites!

Isn't it funny how life unfolds sometimes? You wait for months for an experience and then on the 3 days that you need the sun to shine it is nowhere to be found.

K.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Easily Distracted

I have been a gong show this past couple of weeks. Every time I try to sit down and write, I seem to find something else to do that is more interesting. I'm at the Olympics and I have to admit that temptation to watch events and be a part of the action (aka - drink beer) is running very high.

As I always have done in my life, I am listening to my gut and trusting that this "writers block" that I am experiencing is there for a reason. I don't want to go home in a few days and regret not taking part in absolutely every sporting event, media opportunity and party I possibly could. I was very disciplined during the process of getting here and right now I feel like I need to celebrate the HUGE accomplishment that this Games has been for me personally, my team and for all of Canada's athletes.

So, I am probably not going to write until I get home. Please know that I am on top of the world right now. I am proud and I am really looking forward to coming home and sharing this wonderful experience with as many people as possible.

Happy Closing Ceremonies and keep checking back for an update...It will arrive when the time is right.

Kyle

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Apologies

Greetings friends and family,

I have been piecing together a post competition blog, but it is still a work in progress. It's been hard to find the time to get everything in there!

I want everyone to know that I am doing well and I totally appreciate your support and kindness (I am not replying to many emails right now because there is an overwhelming amount of them pouring in, but I am reading every one!). I have been smiling and enjoying the Olympics to the max. I have been extremely busy with media stuff (including helping out with the CBC men's gymnastics broadcasts which has been an awesome opportunity for me...I hope I'm doing OK and not butchering it).

I will continue to plug away and hopefully have a post up in the next couple of days.

Thanks for being patient and I hope you all are enjoying the Olympics so far!

Go Canada Go!

Kyle

http://www.kyleshewfelt.com/

Friday, August 08, 2008

08.08.08

It was exactly one year ago that I started this blog with the intention of sharing my journey in the year leading up to Beijing. I wanted to be open and honest, vulnerable and raw. I wanted to be real and I wanted to have people feel like they connected with me as a person and as a gymnast. I could have never predicted the roller coaster ride that this past year has been, but thank you all for being a part of it.

I feel like today should be the day where I write something extremely monumental and philosophical...but I have to be honest, I don't have the time or focus to put that one together right now. Maybe the philosopher in me can come and play another day. Right now I am getting into the competition zone. I am slowing things down and keeping it simple. I am breathing and I am constantly reminding myself that I am ready...because I am.


Just to give a quick update: The Brandon situation has been decided. He will compete. He will be in pain (the poor guy's ankle is black and blue, which I guess is a good thing because it means everything bad is getting out), but as I mentioned in my last post, he can fight with the best of them. I know that he is going to give his best effort and in the heat of the moment he will feel adrenaline and urgency which will help tremendously. As it turns out, it is a sprain (there are some other "doctor terms" in there, but in layman's terms, it is a sprain). A pretty major one, but one that can be managed with tape, anesthetic and pain killers. I have full faith in B and I know that tomorrow he will rise to the occasion for the team.



The entire Canadian team left for Opening Ceremonies about an hour ago...some of us decided to stay behind and catch the action on TV. I know that this is the right choice for me. It is hot out there and the night has the potential to be long and tiring. I don't know of any gymnasts from any countries that are going because we all compete within the next 2 days and we need to feel amazing.

In all 3 of my Olympic appearances, I have never been to an Opening Ceremonies. I am on the same page as many of you: I can only imagine the feeling of walking in when the announcer says, "Canada". That would be incredible and I think at that moment I would burst with Canadian pride and excitement. But I know why I am here...I am here to compete and tomorrow is the day.

I've had a pretty good pre-competition day. We trained this morning and that went well. I did some stuff on all events and spent about 2 hours in the gym. It was packed. China, Japan, Russia, France, a mixed group and us are all in our session. I'm interested in knowing who the audience will choose to watch at any given time during the competition. I'm sure the majority of the audience will be transfixed on China (duh!), but I hope that I can stand out amongst the crowd and be noticed.


In the day leading up to Olympic competition your brain plays a few tricks on you. At one moment you have yourself convinced that you are going to be calm and nail your routines, but then the next you have these thoughts of doubt creep in. Today I imagined myself missing something that I have never missed. I am not going to say what it was because I don't want to jinx myself, but I got a little mad at myself for even thinking it. Why am I trying to sabotage my own performance?? Seriously, I think a lot of athletes do it. I think it is very normal, very natural, but it is so frustrating. I go through this vicious cycle every time I am at a big competition and so I am trying to not let is phase me, but it is not something that I like experiencing. My goal for tomorrow is to constantly tell myself that I am ready, prepared, awesome, finely tuned and incredibly good looking (inside joke)!

I had a conversation with Susan, my wonderful physio, today about how I am going to try and not be too excited tomorrow while I am competing. Why should I be? I am just going out there and doing the same thing that I have been doing for the past few months. I have to go in there and hit 4 routines for my team. I'm not hoping for a miracle. I have already created one. This kind of thinking puts my mind at ease...

Well, I should end this post. I could write forever tonight, but I should really be visualizing and resting. I have some energy that I need to store in a safe and happy place so I can feel better tomorrow than I have ever felt.

I know that I am not going to have the best sleep tonight, but that was in my plan. I am going to keep to myself tomorrow and just get myself deeper in the zone. When you are all watching me compete, I want you to know that I am going to be enjoying every moment of it and appreciating the opportunity, but it just might look like I am a very serious athlete!

I can't wait to write my next post.

Kyle

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Podium Training

So the past couple of days have been a little hectic.

I'm sure those of you who are following the team have heard about Brandon's ankle injury. I happened on Monday night and it was one of those freak things that you could never predict. He wasn't doing anything crazy, he was just completing a routine that he has done a whole whack of times since we started this preparation process (He has been doing them incredibly well, in fact). He had a mat in for safety. His coach was standing there. Everything looked good and then he just landed a little short. It happens to every gymnast at one point or another, but in this case it was a little more serious. Brandon is one tough F--ker. I have seen him in pain before many a time and he just grits through it. When he landed this time it was different. He knew it wasn't just a crunched ankle that he could walk off in 10 minutes. My heart broke for him because I know what it feels like all too well to be laying on the side of the floor feeling helpless and having a million thoughts rush through your head.

He came back to the village immediately and went to the Polyclinic for some xray and all that jazz (This place could seriously become a small town..Olympicville, Olympicmore, Olympicmere, Olympicowna, Olympicbrook- that one sounds nice) Luckily, there are no breaks, bone bruises or fractures. I am not a doctor so I won't even try to diagnose it, but I can tell you that B has been doing physio every hour possible. He has been icing, elevating, taking an anti-inflam, taping, moving, massaging, stretching...he is doing everything he can. We are even bringing food to him so that he can take advantage of every second possible to heal in time. We are a team and when one is wounded we all help in every way we can. I am sending my positive vibes to Brandon and so is everyone else.

The hardest part about this is the fact that we still have to compete on Saturday. That does not change. We don't get an injury extension...do any sports get those? I wish we did, but at 4 pm in Beijing on Saturday August 9th, the competition will begin regardless. Harsh reality, but reality.
A decision of whether he is good enough to go will be made at some point, I don't know when, but I am leaving that up to Brandon and the coaches. I know my job and it is to keep focused, be supportive and get myself prepared to compete on Saturday. 'Control what I can control' has always been a very steady motto for me.


So, moving in another direction, today was podium training. For those of you who don't know what that is, let me quickly explain.

In gymnastics you get one chance to try out the competition venue and apparatus and that is at podium training. The judges are there (in jeans and sneakers! much more relaxing for the athletes than the suits they usually dissect you in) and the media has a chance to check out who looks good and who looks not so good (I hope that I get a big check in the "looks great!" column). Each team gets about 20 minutes per event and we move in the order that we will during the actual competition (rings, vault, pbars, hbar, floor, pommel horse). We wear our competition uniforms and it is basically a dress rehearsal before the big show. If you make a mistake, no worries because you can just try again. If you don't want to do a whole routine, no problem...be lazy (except Edouard, our National coach would be kickin some major ass if we decided on podium training day that we just didn't feel like it!). It is more relaxed than the real deal, but I have always tried to make it feel 75% real. If I can lift a car above my head on competition day then on podium training day I would be able to lift up the back bumper with ease, but I would put the car down right away knowing that it will be no problem to heave it over my noggin' when it actually matters.

One thing that I don't think a lot of people realize is that this is our ONLY chance to touch the apparatus before competition day. I literally spent less than 2 minutes total on highbar today. I have worked my whole life and I get 2 measly minutes to try out the equipment that could decide my destiny...doesn't seem fair, but it's the way it is and everyone has to deal with it. Can you imagine test driving a car for 2 minutes and then paying a ridiculous amount of money -I'm talking years and years of salary, like 20 of them- to buy it outright. That would be crazy, wouldn't it. Gymnastics can be a little crazy sometimes too, but I still love it with all my heart.

Anyway, enough with the random tangents. Let's get on with podium training:

We started our day on rings. I am first up. I like this position. I get to start the party which is great because I like parties. My job is to do a clean and simple routine. I am usually embarrassed to do this event at big competitions because it is not my forte, but this time around I am cool with it. I am not great at this event and I know that, but I am pretty happy with how clean my routine is. Today was no exception. I did a great job. I held all of my strength parts and swung to handstand cleanly. The only thing that I would like improve is my dismount landing. I took a small hop. Bad boy. It's all about the sticking at the Olympics!

I had an amazing sense of calm over me today on rings. I was focused and present and I felt so comfortable and ready. I didn't feel like I was doing rings at Olympic podium training. It was just another day of training. That is a good thing. That means I am ready.

Vault went well. It's always fun at the Olympics because there is a camera that chases you down the run way. That thing is so annoying! I remember at my first Olympics in Sydney I actually stopped after a couple of steps because I didn't expect this thing to chase me down. I'm more used to it now and I try to ignore it, but regardless of how focused I am, I still know that little bastard is there.

I sometimes make the mistake of trying to stick my vault. What I have learned from experience is that when you stand at the end and think "stick stick stick" you almost always fall on your ass. It's because you try too hard to be perfect and you open up early and get a little under rotated. So, today I made that error. I thought about sticking and I landed a little short, but I didn't fall. What I need to think is "small hop forward small hop forward small hop forward". This will give me a better chance of sticking and if I don't then I will at least only take a small hop and my team won't suffer a near fall (and I won't have a heart attack when my ass almost hits the ground!).

I have been struggling with the decision of whether or not to do a second vault here. It was a hard battle back to get my Shewfelt (Yurchenko 2.5) perfected and I didn't have too much time to work on a higher start value second vault. In order to make individual finals you need to perform 2 different vaults. The plan is to nail my first one and then do a great second one, but with a little lower start value. I am not a crazy vaulter like some guys. I don't do the double flipping vaults nor will I ever attempt them. I broke my legs once and I don't need to do it again thank you. But my chances for finals are quite slim because many guys will do at least 2, 7.0 start value vaults. My starts will be 6.6 and 6.2. If I am super clean then I could sneak into finals...if someone else falls; which I honestly hope they don't because they deserve to land and not die.

My next event was highbar. This event has been so consistent for me lately. I have been hitting routines easily and today that trend continued. I caught my releases and even stuck my dismount -thought I'd show everyone that my legs are OK. In competition I really want to keep my legs together on my def because that would be the "perfect" feeling to do that at the Olympics games. It always feels great to know that you have done your absolute best out there...in fact, I think that feels better than a medal any day.

My last event today was floor. Oh floor, how I love you.

I warmed up and did my arabian double pike for the second time without a mat, Yeah me(I did my first one the other day in training...I thought it was important to have one under my belt before a lot of people would be watching)! It felt great and I just reminded myself to BEND my legs on landing! The floor is a little softer in the competition gym than it is in the training hall. It has a little bit different of a bounce (or it could have been the energy and excitement that I had in me) and it took me a couple of turns to get used to it, but now I am totally comfortable.

I went through a routine and it was clean, but I know that I will do it better on Saturday. I only did a half twist in one part where I should have done a 1.5, but that is minor in the big picture. It only lowered my start value by .1 and I covered it up well. I re-did it at the end and it was kind of a funny situation. I tried one and totally got bucked out by the floor. Then I walked back and talked to Tony for a second. I told him that I wanted to do it again, but I felt a little weird because it felt like everyone was watching me. Then I looked up and we were on the big screen. Tony laughed and said, "Well Kyle, I hate to tell ya, but everyone IS watching you. Now go and do it again and do it the way you know how to". And I did.

It felt amazing to be out there tonight. I tried to take a second to appreciate the enormity of this moment in my life. It's hard for me right now to grasp what I am accomplishing here because I feel like I am just doing my job. I am in a bubble and I don't want it to burst, but I have a feeling that when the competition is done I am going to take a look back at how far I've come, to those days when I couldn't straighten my leg and was just pushing it as far as I could and dreaming of being here, and I am going to see this experience for much more than I can right now. I am not immune to emotion, but I am very focused and I am trying to be as much in the present and the NOW as possible. When I do take a minute to reflect on the past I get shivers. I get shivers because I know exactly how hard I had to struggle to get here. I appreciate this, every ounce of it, but I don't think I am going to realize the meaning that this experience holds until I am done competing.

I have come so far and today was just one step closer. I am living the dream that I worked very hard to create. I am proud of myself. I am at the Olympics and I am not only ready to compete, but I am ready to show an amazing performance. A journalist asked me tonight about whether or not the victory is in just being here. In one way, yes it is. That is a huge victory. But I am also not the type of person to be content with being a participant. I am a competitor and I am ready to fight.

Podium training today was fun and it confirmed to me that I am almost ready for the real thing. In 3 more sleeps I definitely will be!


Kyle

Monday, August 04, 2008

Imminent Deadline

Have you ever been sitting there and all of a sudden realized that one day you will actually die?

I don't get this feeling often, but sometimes it comes along and freaks the shit out of me. It puts me into a panic and I feel like I am on a heroine trip (I, of course, have never done heroine and never will, but I have watched the movie 'Trainspotting' a few times and I am just assuming that is what it would be like - babies on the roof are scary!). You get a little dizzy, your stomach sinks to the deepest depths and your neck starts sweating. When it all comes down to it, our days on Earth on numbered...and so are my days until Olympic competition. 5 more sleeps in fact. Wowzers.

The reason I mentioned the "death" feeling is because that is the only feeling I have ever experienced that feels slightly the same as knowing competition day is coming.

I have been getting these pangs of nervousness in the last couple of days. They come and they hit hard. I feel a knot in my stomach, a lump in my throat and my hands start to sweat profusely. I can't control these attacks, but luckily they come and go quickly. It's almost like I'm going into labour and these are my contractions! Breathe. It's a constant reminder that this is real. I am not in a dream. Competition day is coming fast and I only have a certain amount of exact hours and minutes until I compete.

Deadlines are stressful. They eat you alive. I feel like a caged lion and I know I have to roam around and go through the motions for a few more days until I am set into the wild and I can show the world what I've got. Waiting is the hardest part. It's so friggin' cruel. I don't want to wait anymore. It's killing me.

On the other end of the spectrum, sometimes I just want to run and hide. I'm not gonna lie, I am afraid. I'm afraid because I care. It's scary when you put everything on the line and you only have a moment to prove how hard you've worked. It's also extremely exhilarating and as much as I like to pretend that I HATE these feelings, I know that they are what bring me to be my best. I am a warrior preparing for battle and my body is just getting ready to do it's thing. I am going to feel like I can lift a car on competition day!

It's crazy how you subconsciously prepare for imminent deadlines. I notice that I start to talk a little funny. I get a weird energy and buzz in my voice. My hands become a little shaky. I spend more time writing. I become very reflective. My ability to plan ahead goes out the window. I get a little quiet. My answers to questions seems lazy and lame (sorry media friends, I am not interesting right now). All of my energy is going into gymnastics and I'm saving everything I can for Saturday.

Training the past couple of days has been going well. I am always a little sore after a day off (weird, I know, but I think it's because my body starts to go back to the way it's supposed to be and having a normal body hurts as a gymnast!) and we got the day off on Saturday. Sunday was a little bit of a struggle in the morning. My body was achy and I didn't feel as fast as I did on Friday. I tried not to let that rent too much space in my head and I just did some conditioning, warmed up and saved my events for the afternoon.

Much to my surprise, everything was ultra easy on Sunday night. Phew. It didn't feel like it should have been, but it was. This is how I know I am ready. Even when I feel a little off I can still be great.

Today, Monday, we had one routine. I breezed through it. I don't want to train anymore. Let me compete!!!!

Here's some "Olympic" life news...The village is getting more and more packed which is exciting on one page, but a pain in the ass on another. It's so funny how some countries weren't brought up with the same manners system that we have in Canada. A line? What is a line? In the mornings I need a coffee. It's my only addiction and it is widely accepted through out the world so I don't feel that bad about it. Anyway, the only place to get good coffee in the village is at the McCafe. Yes, McDonald's is just like Starbucks...soon McCafe's will be on every corner as well! As more people come to the village, the crazier it gets in the morning with all of the other java abusers. So the system is: you line up forever, order and then stand in another never ending line to get your coffee. Well, I have learned that you don't order a "general" coffee drink. You have to add something crazy like a vanilla shot or mocha-choca-latte-yeahyeah...whatever. If you order a cappuccino then good luck! Let's just say that someone who was at the end of your 'ordering' line will go right to the front of the 'pick up' line and grab the first cappuccino that is delivered by one of the cute little Chinese barista girls. Excuse me! How rude. I always smile and push through everyone when my "special" order is up. Get outta my way and let me have my coffee god damn it!

How about the weather?! It has been an inferno here. Yesterday it was 35C and with the humidex it was 45C. I love the heat, but that was just messy hot. You would walk outside and be sweating, train and sweat and then even sweat after a shower. There was no escaping it. I can't even imagine being an "outdoor" athlete. I would pass out and die. There was some good news to the incredibly hot days - the sun was shining and the sky was blue...except for today when it was smoggy and hot. That's not a nice combo.

We are in a training group with China and they have been MIA until today. We saw them at morning training and they looked awesome. I don't envy the pressure they are under though. In China, Gold is the only colour that matters. If I was to make a prediction, I would say that they will win. They are so strong, well prepared and deep. I am a sucker for Japanese gymnastics (they are so calm and they just seem to love what they do), but I think China will be the victor here...I at least hope they are. Their futures will be much brighter if they pull off the win!

My teammates, Nathan and Adam have passed the "Easy" level of Dance Dance Revolution. Congratulations. They're shooting for "Hard" by the end of the games. I have faith that their practice will pay off!


I also wanted to quickly mention that I have been getting all of the kind and thoughtful emails through my website http://www.kyleshewfelt.com/. I really appreciate everyone writing and inspiring me. I wanted to share a few thoughts that came my way...

"Some times things have to be taken away from us before we truly understand their value and what true hunger really is."

"It's about the scariness of lining up when you have a chance"

And

"Breath, love, live - every moment"


I am trying.

I am feeling great and ready for the next bout of nervousness that should hit in about 2 minutes time!

Kyle

Friday, August 01, 2008

Getting into the Beijing Groove

Yesterday was the day I had been waiting for since arriving in Beijing.

I had been feeling a little out of sorts and almost like my brain and body hadn't quite arrived in China yet! My brain felt tired (fighting to keep my eyes open was a constant battle), disorientated (some skills like a def - a one and a half twisting release move- on highbar were very interesting!), confused (why is it lunch time and I am not hungry at all?). My body felt heavy (I am not fat, in fact I am 'ripped' Kyle right now, but sitting on your arse for 20 hours can make you feel like you have a little extra junk in your trunk), slow (most things, gymnastically speaking, felt sluggish and laboured) and a little frustrated that things weren't falling into place the way I dreamt they would. There were a couple of times I thought, "I'm at the Olympics...why don't I feel AMAZING?! Have I lost my passion? Why didn't I hold off on that McDonalds cheeseburger until after the competition?! What's wrong with me? Life is over!!!" (OK, maybe a little dramatic, but you have to remember that I am an actor -cough, White Palms, cough- extraordinaire! haha)


I guess I was just being a freak and over analyzing my state of being as per usual.

As it turns out, all I really needed was just a couple of days to get adjusted. Yesterday, folks, was absolutely AMAZING!

I had another one of those training days where it felt like no obstacle could get in my way. My brain was there, I was focused and driven. My body was there, I felt fast and powerful. My emotions were in check, I felt like I was at the Olympics and it totally empowered me.

Our training plan for yesterday was 1 routine on each. At this point in the game you want to take a couple of quick warm up turns and then show your coach and your team one incredible routine. Sounds easy enough...and yesterday it was.

You know those days when you have a 'things to do list' that is long, you know it will require efficiency and effort, but there is nothing in your mind that will stop you from getting it done. By the end of the day you've got your car washed, picked up your dry cleaning, bought a card at the dollar store, gone grocery shopping, dropped off your prescription, got your hair cut and even bought a bottle of wine for the party you're going to in a couple of days. Well, yesterday was my errand day. Except instead of buying and cleaning, I was planche-ing, yurchenko-ing, double double-ing and tkatchev-ing! haha. I was on fire.

Not only did I look like a champ yesterday, but my entire team did as well. Everyone was hitting routines like they were going out of style. I think Edouard got a little bit dizzy at a few points in the day because as soon as one guy landed then another was calling his name to come over and watch. It was great. It makes me smile right now just thinking about it. Momentum is such a powerful thing. As an athlete, on those days that things just click you feel like you are absolutely invincible.

This is a great way to be feeling right now. It's exactly what I wanted and expected, but I wasn't getting the confirmation in training until yesterday. Now that I have it, I feel like my focus is going down one level deeper. I am getting a little more prepared for my battle.

One week left.

Kyle



Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Walking

Based on my past Olympic experiences, I should have known that this would happen. My legs are dead. And I'm blaming the walking.

It's crazy how a little bit of extra walking can add up and start taking it's toll on your legs. Here is a run down of my day:

Get up, WALK to the dining hall - 5 minutes
WALK back to the residences - 5 minutes
WALK to the buses - 5 minutes
Train
WALK to the dining centre for lunch - 3 minutes
WALK back to the residences - 5 minutes
WALK to the Internet zone - 1 minute
WALK to the dining hall for a pre-second training coffee - 5 minutes
WALK to the bus - 3 minutes
Train
WALK to the dining hall - 3 minutes
WALK back to the residences - 5 minutes
Physio
WALK to the Internet - 1 minute
Fight off sleep for as long as possible and then crash.

So, by my calculations, that is more than 30 minutes of walking a day that I am not used to. I usually take the elevator down to my car, drive to the University and walk 30 seconds into the gym. Can you say spoiled brat?!

I feel like such a pussy complaining about the walking, but it happens to me every time I am at a Games. My legs start to feel the effects of the extra steps and it takes a little while to adapt.

I think another reason why my legs are killing me is because of all of the hard landings that I have been doing in the gym. At big competitions like this, the new equipment is hard and the landings are harder. You don't get an 8 inch squishy mat to cushion your landing. They have some extra mats laying around, but they don't compare to the soft ones we have at home. My legs haven't had the pounding that they are taking here in a while...and last time they did they weren't metallic! I do have a little fear each time I land because I don't want to take anything for granted, but each time I land successfully then I get more confident and trusting.

Yesterday we trained in the competition warm up hall and it was a little bit of a gong show. I attribute it to being jet lagged, wanting to feel great, but not being fully adjusted to the equipment and environment. I was a little disappointed in myself that I wasn't able to be more 'on', but I also gave myself some slack because it was only our second day here.

Today was better. I still don't feel like my brain and body are quite aligned with Beijing, but I was able to get through pretty much everything unscathed...except for floor. Floor today was a hideous splat fest. Awesome! I kind of expected it when my legs were aching and burning this afternoon so I can't say I am too disappointed with the outcome. I know that it will only get better and I also know that doing a whip, 2.5 and punching into a barely rotated forward roll is a sure sign that I need a little bit of leg recovery. The floor here is very soft and if you don't have a little extra oomph in your take off then it's game over.

Tomorrow we have a half day and I am excited. We have already done 3 days of 2 trainings and I think that an afternoon off will put everyone into the perfect position to nail our 1 routine that we have to show on Friday.

From this point on, I am going to be very protective of my legs. I will demand piggy backs whenever possible and walk slowly and effortlessly when rides are not available.

Kyle


Just a couple of fun tidbits:

- the entire Canadian team gets an awesome Samsung phone/blackberry that we get to keep after the Games. Bell is the wonderful supplier of course and I can tell you that everyone is loving texting and calling back home. Bell rules!

- I got my pants back...bad news. They are flood length. Apparantly I should have worn my shoes when I got them hemmed...I am working on a solution. Anyone know how to add 2 inches?? (get your mind outta the gutter!)

- AC is finally fixed. I think a more comfortable sleep is on it's way

- I took a sleeping pill last night to help combat the jet lag (WADA approved of course). It was supposed to be good for 6 hours, but imagine my surprise when I woke up at 2am. I thought that I was having a sleeping pill trip, but I guess my subconscious is just much stronger than any sedative.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Free Clothes!

Today was a fun day. Long, but fun.

I managed to sleep the night through with only a couple of little interruptions. I have the tendency to wake up on the first night in a new place, sit up in bed and wonder where the hell I am. I did that a few times, but they were just minor glitches in an otherwise pretty content sleep.

One thing that I noticed yesterday and forgot to point out is that Beijing is bloody HOT. Hotter than I remember. I was sweating all day. In fact, right now it is almost 9pm and when you walk outside it is uncomfortably hot. You feel sticky all the time. The great thing is that we have AC in all of the buildings (almost- described below) and buses so we don't roast to death for too long, but as soon as you exit a building and the hot air hits your face it makes you feel a little heat blasted.

Speaking of AC, the air conditioning in Nate and I's room is not working. Our room is 26 C. That's a little warm. We are hoping to have that fixed asap. Also, the showers in our rooms are not so good. The drains don't work properly so the entire bathroom fills up with 3 inches of water when you have a shower. I think that is one of my biggest pet peeves...I hate walking into the bathroom and getting wet feet. It's so unexpected and nasty.

Training this morning went well. I was a little tired so I just conditioned and swung on rings and highbar. It was so funny when we walked into the gym because we were very obviously the first ones who were training there. All of the apparatus was chalkless. We're talking bare ass rings, highbar, pommels and even pbars. That is kind of a piss off as a gymnast because you want to know that someone else has at least touched the equipment before you to make sure it's OK. When you are the first one to touch brand spankin' new equipment it feels a little greasy and a little too fresh. It needs to be broken in a little and having to be the one to do it is a waste of time and energy. We dealt with the circumstance well though and we are just hoping that we don't have the same situation in another new gym tomorrow.

After we got home (haha, I can officially call the Olympic Village "home" for the next month...that's pretty cool) we had a quick bite to eat in the ginormous dining centre and then headed off to experience one of the best parts of being on Team Canada. We went to get our free clothing package!

Everything is awesome. HBC is the supplier this year and they did an amazing job. The fabrics are very compatible with the inferno weather and they have some Asian flavour that seems very fitting for this games. We got pants, shorts, polo shirts, tshirts, socks, a tank top, a couple of jackets, a couple of hats, shoes, flip flops, a sweet hoody, a suitcase, back pack, messenger bag...there was a lot of wicked stuff. To be honest, I saw some of the stuff in the Bay store and I was a little worried. Being on the rack definitely doesn't do the pieces justice. When you put them on they look and feel great. Of course the entire group of gymnasts had to get alterations on the pants because we are all shrimps and we will get them back in a couple of days. I can't even imagine wearing pants in this blazing climate though so they probably won't be that missed.

The outfitting took a while, it was well worth the time of course, and when we arrived back to the village we only had a half hour or so before we had to leave for our second training.

Second training went well. I did some basic routines on floor and then tried some of my bounding lines. I also did a few simple vaults which felt pretty good. The floor has a bit of a weird bounce, but I was able to get a good rhythm going by the end. It just took a little bit of time and patience.

I am trying to be very safe and protective here. I want to take my time and feel comfortable with everything before I start pushing myself to do the big skills. I can't afford an injury and I think that making smart decisions is going to be my best bet. I am ready. I have done the work. Now I just need to take care of myself, get used to the environment and settle in.

I'm fading fast as you can probably tell...jet lag sucks. 32 more minutes until I can go to bed!
K.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Welcome to Beijing

I just wanted to take a quick moment to let everyone know that I have arrived in Beijing safe and sound. The flight went well (although I didn't get an upgrade even with everyone sending the upgrade vibes!). I slept for a good 5 hours and it was much needed as I have had a lot on my mind lately. I did a lot of writing, prioritizing and reminding myself that I am a good person with many reasons to smile.

I have to admit that I was a wreck on the drive to the airport. My mom and dad picked me up and I instantly broke down for the entire ride. I looked like I was a stoner because my eyes were so red! I just needed to let it out. I needed to cry, vent and just release all of the emotion. Not only was I upset about the whole love situation, but the day you leave for the Olympics is very emotional. It's scary, exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. You have worked so hard and this is the day that you leave to embark on your journey. You have no idea what the outcome will be. You could come home to hundreds of people at the airport or you could come home and have no greeting crew. Your dreams could come true or they could be shattered. When you get on the plane then there is no turning back.

When we arrived in Beijing it was like an instant flood of all things Olympic. I don't know how many of you have seen the movie Cool Runnings- it's my favourite.There is a part when one of the characters, Sanka, says, "I feel very Olympic today". I can totally relate! Today, I felt very Olympic.

The people of China have been the most gracious hosts. There is a large entourage waiting at your every turn to make sure you are ok and your needs are met. They are awesome volunteers. You can tell that the people of Beijing are extremely proud to be hosting this games and they want the world to be impressed. Well Beijing, I am impressed. My experience thus far has been incredible.

So tonight I have one mission. Fight off this jet lag until 10:30pm. I don't want to wake up at 3am and have time to be lonely and think. I figure that if I can keep my eyes open until 10:30 then the comfort of bed will surround me and I will drift away into the perfect sleep. Let's hope so at least.

We train tomorrow morning at 9am, but it's just going to be a light session. I am really looking forward to walking into the gym and embracing the possibilities. Remember a while back, November I believe, when I said that I wanted to walk into the gym at the Olympics and feel like I owned it? Well, tomorrow is my chance to make that statement come true. I feel like I have full control of my attitude and I am going to approach tomorrow with optimism and excitement.

I am now officiially at the Olympic Games, my mind is clear and it's my chance to shine.

Kyle

Friday, July 25, 2008

Heavy Heart

Something happened to me a couple of days ago that reminded me that I am indeed human and not the super hero that I was starting to feel like I was becoming.

A certain girl in my life, someone very special to me who I have discussed here before, a certain girl who I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with, a certain girl who will always have a piece of my heart, thought that it was important to tell me that she is falling in love with someone new. My heart was broken once when we decided to be apart, but it was crushed when this news was delivered.

I don't know how many of you out there have been in my situation, but for those of you who have then you know the feelings of loneliness, desperation and despair that overcome your every thought and breath. For those of you who know what it feels like to learn that someone who you care about is seeing someone new, you know that the pain is almost impossible to describe, but it is so brutally painful.

First, there is the noxious, vomitty feeling that instantly grasps your jaw and insides as you hear the words one by one...I. am. seeing. someone. new. As each word filters through your brain you want to scream louder. And of course being human, you replay them again just to make sure it wasn't your imagination. It hurts more the second time, but the reality of it whacks you in the heart so hard that you can almost feel it trickling into your gut and making your legs weak. Cue the throat tickle and shaky limbs.

She felt it was important to tell me before I left. It probably was, but why does it have to hurt so much? When someone you love starts to love someone else, it is the worst feeling in the world. I am loyal and I hold the things that I care about very close to my heart. Finding out something like this does not give me freedom, it paralyzes me.

We struggled and came to the conclusion that we needed some life experience before we knew for sure. I guess my hope was that she would find that no one could make her feel alive in the way that I did. She is entitled to live her life. I can't ask her to pause it for me. In fact, I am almost certain that this new gentleman will be able to give her what I couldn't. I just wish that I could give her the beautiful life she deserves. I would be honoured and proud if I could. She holds a very special place in my heart.

Maybe she will have this experience and decide that I am the one that she needs. But will I be around and still waiting? I don't know. I shouldn't be. I should move forward to, but it's impossible when I am still in the dream that I have been dreaming for 20 years. I feel so much progress and momentum in the gym, but I also feel very static when it comes to life beyond gymnastics.

What bothers me is that it bothers me. I need to be strong right now and not focus on the things I can't control. If she wants to move in that direction then that is her choice and she is entitled to it. I wish that it didn't affect me or my focus. A heavy heart affects every ounce of a persons spirit. You can't just turn it off like everyone suggests. I want to, I've tried, but the thoughts and the pain are still sitting there, deeply embedded in my soul. The worst part is that when I don't want to think about it then I do. Damn you irony.

I hate picturing her with him. There is a part of me that feels like no one else in this world should be allowed to give her affection. She is not a possession, but I took a lot of pride in my ability to make her feel special.

I should have known this was coming. It was inevitable that it was going to happen. It's just that matters of the heart were not in my pre-Olympic plan and this has thrown me off a bit. It's consuming me more than I should let it.

What do I do? I know what I need to do, but I am afraid that I won't be able to do it. I know that I can not let this affect me and ruin my dream. I have worked so hard and I need to remember what is important here. I am going to the Olympics and I have overcome the biggest obstacle of my life to have the opportunity. I am strong. I am ready. But I am also so weak when it comes to pulling on my heart strings. Right now, I need to do everything in my power not to think about this. I need to get on the plane tomorrow and leave it in Calgary. I have worked way too long and fought way too hard to let my dreams be capsized by this unforeseen circumstance.

Life is so unpredictable. You can think it's smooth sailing and life is grand and then all of a sudden something you didn't want to hear and didn't expect to occur comes stomping in and uproots your balance. Damn uncontrollable circumstances...they make me angry.

When it all comes down to it, she deserves happiness. It just breaks my heart that I will not be the one who will forever make her smile.

Kyle

Monday, July 21, 2008

Final Olympic Camp

As of today, we have less than one week before we blast off to Beijing on July 26th! I have been on an incredible roller coaster of emotions over the past week, sometimes having 100% belief in myself that I am ready and other times having zero confidence.

We started our final Olympic camp on Thursday and the day went well. It was kind of weird because this camp really blended into the camp that ended a week before. It didn't even feel like I had a week of training at my home gym in between. My first question to myself when I arrived at Calgary Gymnastics Centre was, "Did I actually train last week or was that just my imagination?".

On Friday we had our first model training. I have to admit, it was tough.

At about 2 in the afternoon the dark clouds rolled in over Calgary and there was a gloom in the air. A storm was brewing and I felt it in my core. I am pretty sure everyone else did as well because the gym had an off and tired energy. It was dark, silent and timid. These are not my favourite conditions for getting pumped up and hitting routines! I am the type of person who is very reactive to energy, seasons and weather. Give me a sunny summer day and I will smile and radiate, but take my sunshine away and I feel drained. Maybe I should have been a plant. Life would have been easier and photosynthesis is such a cool trick to be able to perform! I love growth, inspiration and warm hugs and that is what a beautiful summer day conveys to me. When dark clouds roll in it almost feels as if I have to work 2 times as hard to feel alive. I hope that August 9th is one of those days when a breeze rolls in and pushes the smog out of Beijing. Sunny days make me feel unstoppable.

I did manage to hit all of my routines in the model training, but I didn't feel as present and sharp as I have in the past. I felt like I was happy to make it through and I couldn't muster up the desire or energy to make things finitely perfect. I was disappointed at the end of the day because I knew I could do better. I have been working hard and trying my absolute best in training. I haven't been cutting corners and I have been trying to place myself in pressure situations on a consistent basis so that I can deal with it easily and nail my BEST routines when the judge says it's time to go. I don't want to be content with simply hitting, I want to hit and know that it was the best it could be.

I experienced a lot of times on Friday when I got a little frustrated with myself because I didn't seize the moment. My 'Carpe Diem' factor was lacking and it wasn't until I was finished my routine that I looked back on it and thought, "Why didn't I do that better?". Loser.

After having this negative feeling of regret hit my gut more times than I liked, I came to a conclusion that has really changed my attitude and approach to training during this last couple of days. Each time I make a small mistake, I look at it as a growth moment. It is an opportunity for me to recognize that something went wrong, but to also realize that I still have time to apply myself, change it and therefore grow. If I was to continue making the same mistakes, not recognizing them and not changing them then I would conclude that I don't really give a crap. But I really do care. I care so much that I've thought about gymnastics, the Olympics and my routines non stop for the past 'I don't even know how long'. I dream gymnastics (thank god I'm not dreaming about home renovations anymore!), I eat gymnastics (and I am proud to say that I am leaning out exactly according to plan...hello cheekbones, goodbye beer roll (he'll be back soon though!)), I breathe gymnastics (each time I breathe in I try to imagine it being the last deep breathe I take before I compete). Gymnastics is definitely not just a sport. It is a lifestyle and I am embracing it.

On Saturday, the day after our hideous model training, I was tired and just needed to take it easy. I felt a little guilty that my teammates were busting out crazy amounts of work, but I was exhausted and couldn't keep up. If there is one thing I have learned in the past 20 years of doing this sport it would be that listening to your body and trusting your emotions is essential to success. I was drained. It took a lot out of me to fight through Friday's competition and I didn't have much left. So, I stayed in the back ground, did some basic skills and conditioning and recharged my 20 year old gymnastics battery (I think my 26 year old Kyle battery needed some charging too)!

After taking it easy on Saturday, Sunday was one of those days where I felt like nothing could stand in my way. Bring on the Oly's! We had one routine on each apparatus and I breezed through it. Everything felt easy. Maybe a little too easy. Everything felt like it was connected (my mind, body and spirit). I have to admit, I was looking pretty friggin' sharp and I felt motivation, confidence and pure joy just oozing through me!

I love my sport. I love good days. I love it when I have endless amounts of energy and enthusiasm. I love self-confidence. I love trusting myself. I love courage. I love strength. I think most of all, I love believing in myself, believing in my team and believing in the potential that Beijing holds.

Tomorrow (Tuesday the 22nd) we are having our final model training before we leave for China on the 26th. It is going to be at Calgary Gymnastics Centre (at Canada Olympic Park) starting at 5:45pm. Everyone is welcome to come and watch. In fact, I have already invited way too many people. But you know what, I want the gym to be packed. I want there to be energy. I want to feel inspired and I want to show everyone how far I've come and how awesome our team is. I am sick of having 5 people in the audience when we compete. I want to be fired up. We are the best gymnasts in this country. We are going to the Olympics! We have dedicated our lives to this and we deserve to have thousands of people screaming for us when we nail our routines!!!

Tomorrow could be one of the best parts of this entire process. I'm very excited to perform for my friends, family and colleagues. I have an inkling that there might be a few tears in the audience...and some of them will probably be from me. I'm almost at that point where my dreams start coming true and it is a pretty overwhelming feeling. I've come so far and I know that in the next 17 days I will continue to go even further.

Kyle

www.kyleshewfelt.com

Monday, July 14, 2008

Olympic Doubt

This morning I was a little panicked when I woke up. The thought that I am actually leaving for Beijing and the OLYMPIC GAMES felt very real and it freaked the shit out of me.

All of a sudden, as I turned off my alarm clock, a million thoughts and questions came rushing in to my fresh and recharged morning mind.

Am I ready?
Will I be able to deliver the performance I need to?
Will I be able to withstand the Olympic pressure?
Have I worked hard enough?
Have I done enough routines?
Do I need more time?
Will my legs hold up?
Is my difficulty high enough?
What if I don't win again?
What if I mess up during the qualification?
What if I can't get my second vault?
What if I forget how to do gymnastics?

At one point I actually lied there and contemplated just continuing to lie there until someone came and saved me from the nightmare. Would I have stayed in my bed until the 26th and missed my flight? Probably not. I hope someone would get concerned by that point!

I guess I am feeling the crunch. The expectation I have of myself and the pressure of the Olympic Games are beginning to build. We are less than a month away. It just doesn't quite seem like the time line is real. Is someone playing a really bad joke on me? Did someone change all of my clocks and calendars? Where the hell did the past month go?

It's very hard to express my mind set right now. It's almost as if every moment that I am not in the gym and proving to myself that I can do gymnastics, I am doubting my ability. I am only getting relief and confirmation when I am physically there and going through the motions. I have found myself worrying about the thoughts that are going to go through my head when it's time to compete. I want to be focused and prepared and not wishing that I could escape the moment and run away and hide. But honestly, that's how I feel sometimes right now. I am so scared that my physical, emotional and mental selves are not going to align at the moment I need them to. What if I completely destroy my performance? What if I stand there waiting to compete and I don't trust the work I have done? What if I let the sharks attack and I am left with severed limbs and a devastating experience?

I think these thoughts are normal.

Um, am I normal?

I am at least going to try and convince myself that these thoughts are normal. I would assume that every Olympic Champion who broke both of their legs 10 months before the upcoming Games which are only 24 days away has experienced these thoughts of doubt and anxiety.

Maybe I'm not so normal!

I am just really scared of failing. I've invested so much. I don't want to let myself, my team or my country down.

I knew that this comeback was going to come down to the wire, but it is taking everything I have inside of me right now to not avoid it completely. It's so friggin scary!! It doesn't feel real. Even as I type I can't believe that I will be leaving for the Olympics in 12 more sleeps.

I guess there was a positive to this little freak out. I did get my ass out of bed and I did go to training. Not only was I there, but I was productive and proved to myself that I am almost ready for Olympic competition. I think I am thinking negatively because I am tired, anxious and just ready to write the story. I am so sick of waiting for it all to unfold. I want to be in the moment, compete and stop thinking about everything that could go wrong.

OK, time for a personal therapy session...my favourite.

From this moment on, I will only think of everything great that will happen. I will picture myself having positive thoughts before I compete. I will trust the evidence that I see in training every day. And of course, I will breathe.

Something cool happened to me today. I saw my great friend (and role model!) Clara Hughes while I was leaving the gym and she was cycling home. She asked how I was and I vented a bit about everything. She, being the incredibly grounded person that she is, always has such awesome perspective. She reminded me of the victory that I have already achieved by overcoming my injury and she reminded me that I am freaking out a bit because I am a competitor and I really care. It's true. I really do care about my performance and maybe freaking out 24 days before the Games start is jut a mechanism that I use in order to get myself prepared. I'm gonna go with that at least! Life has no coincidences. Everything happens for a reason and Clara just cycled past me today as a reminder that I am on the right path and I am exactly where I need to be, stressin' out and all!

I told my coach, Tony, today that I don't want this to be stressful. I don't want it to freak me out. I don't want to approach days with fear and worry. I don't want it to feel like the end of the world when everything doesn't feel perfect. I want to enjoy this time. This is something I have worked very hard for and I don't want to kibosh it by being a panicky little freak show. My attitude is mine to control and I need to be positive. I want to be positive. I want to enjoy every second of this experience because it is really special.

When it all comes down to it, not everyone gets to lay in their bed and question whether or not they will be ready for the Olympics. Should I consider myself lucky?? I think so.

Kyle