Saturday, February 23, 2008

Calgary Herald Article

Here is an article that appeared in today's Calgary Herald

Beijing dreams back on track

Canucks eager for Shewfelt's return

Kristen Odland, Calgary HeraldPublished: Saturday, February 23, 2008

If you asked Kyle Shewfelt about his summer plans, he'd be lying if he said a specific destination hadn't crossed his mind.

But regardless how quickly the Beijing Summer Olympics are approaching, the 2004 Olympic gold medallist realizes exercising patience is likely a better idea at the moment.

After all, bounding back from a double-knee injury, invasive surgery and extensive rehabilitation onto the parallel bars doesn't exactly happen overnight.

"There's never been a timeline that's been given to me," said Shewfelt. "Even when I had surgery, it wasn't like: 'OK, in three months, you'll be better' . . ."

"Generally, for what my injury was, it takes a long time to recover.

"I've heard people who've fractured both tibias who, after a year, haven't been fully recovered."

Last fall, at Canada's Olympic qualifiers at the world gymnastics championships in Stuttgart, Germany, Shewfelt was in town for merely three days when he sustained the most serious injury of his career.

The undisputed leader of the Canadian men's gymnastics squad hyperextended both of his knees after performing a difficult landing in practice.

"It was almost like a bad dream," said Shewfelt.

"It happened and it was reality, but it was the worst scenario. I was at world championships, I was ready to compete, it was an Olympic qualifier for our team -- it was really bad timing.

"Not like there's any good timing (for an injury) but that was awful timing."

At the time, Canada's chances to secure a trip to the Beijing Olympics were significantly reduced without him, but the remainder of the team pulled it together and finished 11th overall.

But there wasn't good news waiting for him back at home.

Aside from breaking both his knees, his team of specialists in Calgary informed him he'd sustained ligament damage plus chipped off a piece of his bone.

Within days of landing on Canadian soil, he was in surgery.

"The severity of (the injury) actually came into play when I couldn't do what I mentally thought I should be able to do," he explained.

"But they say with an injury like this, it plateaus for a long time. And then, all of a sudden, you really start to build -- you start to move forward.

"And I'm feeling like I'm at that point right now."

Near the end of October, he hit the gym again.

Since he couldn't walk, hang or swing, Shewfelt had to focus on his upper body and was only able to perform chin-ups and handstands with assistance.

When 2008 hit, however, he was able to start practising routine gymnastics moves. And lately, running seems to be his main issue.

But with Canada starting down the road to Beijing, which began on Friday in a friendly team match against the U.S., you'd think he's getting antsy.

Or maybe even a little impatient?

"It's on my mind every second of every day," said Shewfelt, a product of Calgary's National Sport School.

"It's my everything right now . . . but I also know there's a lot of steps that have to happen before I'm there.

"Even if I wasn't injured, I don't think I'd be thinking about competing at the Olympics today.

There's still five months to go. There's a lot of buildup towards the peak.

"It's in my mind every day, but I try not to obsess about it."

While he was out of commission for this weekend, the Canadian team feels Shewfelt is way ahead of the game.

"On or ahead of schedule if anything, in fact," said Jeff Thomson, the Canadian men's program director.

"He's back tumbling again on a special tumbling floor. We think that's very remarkable and we're very pleased he's already able to tumble this soon after such a serious injury," said Thomson.

"We're very optimistic."

© The Calgary Herald 2008
photo by Grant Black

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