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

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

3 Time Olympian

Yesterday, at the conclusion of our final Olympic selection camp, our team was finally named. Let me introduce you to the gentlemen who will represent Canada at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games:

Grant Golding
David Kikuchi
Adam Wong
Nathan Gafuik
Brandon Oneill
and...Me!

This is an incredibly strong team. I don't think we even know how good we are. I believe we are going to be the surprise of the Games and I am so proud and honored to be a part of this group. Our goal as a team is to place top 8 in the qualification and to move on to the team finals where anything can happen. I am really looking forward to experiencing success with my teammates. Also, the celebrations afterwards are going to be insane!



Can you believe that I am going to be a 3 time Olympian??? That is bloody crazy. You know you're legit when you're a competitor at 3 Olympic Games. I believe I am only the second gymnast from Canada to qualify to 3 Games, the other being Alan Nolet ('88, '92, '96). What an accomplishment. This is actually one of the main goals that has helped me push through this year. I've always wanted to be a part of this rarefied group and it is something that I am very proud of.

You don't get many triple Olympians in gymnastics. The life span of a gymnast is usually pretty short because we start at such a young age and it is so demanding on all levels. I know some athletes who started competing in their sports when they were 12, 13, some even 18 years old. I started competing when I was 8 and I competed in my first Olympic Games when I was 18.

My first Olympics were Sydney 2000. I consider these my "experience" Olympics. I was young, wide eyed and just elated to be there. It was my first major Games and I learned so much. I went as an individual with Sasha Jeltkov because Canada didn't qualify a full team to the Games. It was a stressful process of qualifying too as I had to travel around the world competing at numerous World Cups in order to reach a top 16 world ranking. Eventually I surpassed that and ended with a top 8 ranking, but I didn't find out I would be going to the Games until a month and a bit before. I ran around my house when I found out!

Being there was the accomplishment. I had high hopes, but my world didn't revolve around my Olympic success. I just wanted to represent Canada well and get the free clothing package! haha.

I can remember competing on floor and not being able to feel my legs before I started my routine! That was a little concerning, but when I began to tumble I felt quick and powerful. I actually had a little too much power and my toe went out of bounds. I got a .1 deduction for the mistake and I ended up scoring a 9.575 and a 12th place finish. With that .1 back, I would have scored a 9.675 and ended up 4th and qualified to the finals. I was so close and pretty disappointed that I made such a small, but costly mistake. Live and learn, I guess.

If I had the opportunity to go back in the past and change that mistake, I don't think I would. It made me more hungry for Olympic success.

The rest of those games were a total gong show/write off for me. I was 18, done competing after the first day and let's just say that Sydney was mine to discover. I explored, watched tons of competitions, got a tattoo (at Harry's Tattoo Parlor of all places...sounds classy!) and drank way too much beer. I look back at pictures and laugh because I was so young and naive. But I do believe that this was an important experience for me to have. I got to participate in the Olympics and see what the big show was all about...and it was like nothing else in the world!

One of my good gymnastic friends, Igor Vihrov, ended up winning the floor title at this Olympic Games. I had beaten him at a couple of World Cups leading into the competition so it was pretty eye opening for me. I guess it was confirmation that I had potential to win the Olympics. I actually saw Igor right after he won and he let me see his medal. It was at that moment that I decided the title would be mine in 2004. I actually wrote down some goals and plans (big surprise!) in my room at the village that evening and one of them was to become the 2004 Olympic Champion on floor.

Fast forward 4 years and many competitions later: Athens 2004. This is what I like to call my "Dream Come True" Olympics (it was kind of like a storybook)! They were absolutely perfect.

My experience in Athens was the experience that all athletes dream of. I was in incredible shape and I competed well. I had my personal best performances and did it all in the country where the Olympic Games were born. It was my former coach, Kelly, and I's swan song as athlete and coach and as Kelly likes to say, "the stars aligned on that day"!

I was prepared. I knew what was at stake. I knew I needed to be perfect in order to win. I knew what the Games were all about. I knew how exciting they would be, but I wasn't distracted. I was focused and disciplined. My "experience" Olympics helped me know what to expect.

As I completed my routine in the finals I was on auto pilot. I just turned my brain off and let my body do the work. As I moved through each line I was focused on the finest of details, from my toes being pointed to my landings being stuck (in bounds of course!). When it came time for my dismount I knew I was going to have to fight with everything I had inside of me to nail the landing.

I ran a little slower than normal. 3 running steps, round off, back handspring, double twisting double back. I saw the floor and planted my feet. I grabbed on for dear life with my toes and fought with every ounce of 'competitor' I had. I didn't move. It was electric.

Seeing your name on top of the score board after nailing the best routine of your life is an incredible feeling. It was almost like I was in the dream that I had been dreaming for 16 years beforehand. But it was reality and that took a while for me to accept. I had done everything I possibly could to downplay the pressure inside of my own head. I kept telling myself that it was just another routine. But it wasn't. It was a routine that changed my life and helped me to realize that ultimate dreams do come true.

My family was in Athens as well and that made the experience that much more dream like. They paid a great deal of money to be there for me, but the moment wouldn't have been as special if they weren't there to hug in person right after I peed in a cup!

I felt like the whole package was put together perfectly. Me, in incredible shape, believing in myself and ready to fight like hell. My family, on a vacation and supporting me from the stands. My coach, who coached me from the beginning, and I's last competition together. Greece, the birthplace of the Games. It all brings a tear to my eye right now as I look back and recall that beautiful experience.

It truly was a dream come true.


Now, I am preparing for my third Olympic Games. But as I sit here; I can't come up with a title for them. These games have a completely different meaning. I guess it would be safe to wait until they are complete and the story is told before I define them, but I know that above all else they are going to be rewarding, inspiring, satisfying and fulfilling. I have worked so hard to earn my place on this team and now I am ready to push myself hard through the next 30 days. Gold medal or not, these Olympics might just be the best of the bunch. And that's because of everything I've gone through just to make it there!


With one month left to go, I am so excited about the possibilities!

Kyle

www.kyleshewfelt.com

Trials Videos

Below are some video's of my routines from trials. I missed taping my ring routine because I was so zoned that I forgot to pull out my camera, but that's alright. My rings aren't anything special so you aren't missing much!




This is my vault. I felt fast and smooth and just need to stick my landing.

video


This is my highbar routine. Clean and simple for the team. Notice the perfect form on my Def release move...this leads me to believe that I am getting into great shape! That is a very difficult skill to keep perfect form on and the only way you really can is when you believe that you will catch the bar before you even let go. It's called trust and I'm starting to trust myself a lot more!

video


This is my floor routine. Still not perfect, but I have come so far and I am choosing to focus on that!
My goal for the upcoming week is to eliminate most of the mats and to change my 4th line to something a little more complex. I was whipping into this skill so that I could build up some strength and endurance, but now it's time to remove the whip and add an extra twist. Hopefully it' not a problem. Basically, I just need to do more routines so that I can have some energy for the last couple of lines. I only did a full twist in my 5th line here, but I cleanly bailed out of a double. It is bloody hard to be tight and quick after 4 lines!

Remember, back in January, when I was excited to do a simple roundoff back handspring on squishy mats?! I sure do. My progress over the past month has been phenomenal and I am looking forward to improving even more over the next 30 days!


video



I hope that you enjoyed watching. If you want to see me compete LIVE and in person, come by Calgary Gymnastics Centre (at Canada Olympic Park) on July 22nd at 5:45pm. Mark your calendar! I want everyone I know in Calgary to be there and I want my team to have the opportunity to show our friends, family and fans how awesome we are!!

Kyle

www.kyleshewfelt.com

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Competing Tonight

I probably shouldn't be writing this right now as the past has dictated that at this point, only an hour and a bit before warm up, I should be getting a little stressed. I should start feeling the adreneline pumpin' through my veins and the slight panic attacks that occur when something doesn't go exactly according to my pre-competition plan. I should be doing a mental check of my list of things to remember like snacks, singlet, shorts and red socks. I should be remembering my key words and visualizing myself nailing perfect routines. I should be getting myself into the zone and starting to feel the emergence of the fighter inside of me...

I have good news to report...everything that I should be doing, I have already done.

I am ready.

Let me seize the moment and show how far I have come. Today is a day where I have a chance to add some more confidence to my Olympic preparation. I want to attack when it's time and be calm and cool when I am paitently waiting to explode.

On that note, It's 1:50pm and my plan says it's time for me to go and brush my teeth!

Wish me luck,

Kyle

www.kyleshewfelt.com

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Intense Time Bomb

Today was the start of our second Olympic selection camp and it was a great day. The sun was shining (28 C here in Calgary...not even close to the 40 degree weather we'll get in Beijing though!), there was intensity in the gym and everyone looked like they brought their A game. By the end of the camp, which is Monday, we will know who will represent our country in men's gymnastics at the Beijing Olympic Games...it's about friggin' time!

This week, I am really looking forward to showing the improvements I've made over the past week and a half since our last camp. My confidence is higher, my trust and belief in myself are elevated and my physical condition is way better than it was even a week ago...everything that I wanted to start coming together is starting to come together and it is so satisfying. Ahhhh...

I am also looking forward to testing myself again in a competition situation. We have 2 test meets, one on Saturday and one on Monday and I am feeling very prepared. I am almost at the point where I am excited to show off how far I have come. Weird.

My heart and soul are deeply invested in this process. It's like I have fallen madly in love with the potential this dream holds. There have been a few days in the past week where I have been on the verge of tears, not because of sadness, but because of joy and pride. I am absolutely loving my physical, mental and emotional conditions. Physically, I don't think I have ever been so strong. I have amazing endurance (and it will just continue to improve!), I feel like skills and routines are starting to become easier. Mentally, I feel like I have a really good grasp on whats important right now and I feel like my perspective and approach are very positive and peaceful. Emotionally, I feel like I am willing to give everything I have within myself.

I want to dream about my Olympic performances every minute I am away from the gym. I have found myself more often than not laying in bed and visualizing myself standing on the floor waiting to compete in Beijing. I am trying to make these dreams feel as real as possible because when I am actually at the Games; I want to feel in control of the situation, very present, alive, conscious, prepared, determined, confident and trusting of myself and my ability to show off my gymnastics. I guess you could say that I am starting to feel that inner warrior come about and it is such a rewarding feeling because I know that it's my hard work that has brought me to this point.

One thing that has been a little freaky, but also motivating, is how close we really are to the Games. A mere 35 days today. Holy F*@%! Time flies when you're having fun! I have been dealing with this constant ticking of a time bomb by trying to approach every training knowing that it is essentially one training closer to the Games and I need to make it worthwhile. The number of trainings that we have left are limited and the number becomes slimmer by the day. I don't want to back away. I want the time bomb to explode into a powerful and confident performance and not into a million little pieces of "what could have been". I want to know that the deadline is approaching and I want to push myself further than I thought I could. I want to go home every day knowing that I did everything I could do on that particular day to come closer to being ready. I have to admit that sometimes I wish I could stop time, or atleast slow it down for a minute, but then other times I wish that we were only 20 days away so that I could start being even more intense.

I faced a truth about my intensity this week. Sometimes I am in complete denial about it, maybe because I have always been slightly envious of a life with no pressure and responsibility, but when push comes to shove, I am INTENSE. Super intense. One of my closest friends put it into a great context the other day when we were out for a "one pint" Canada Day celebration. We were talking about life and how some people wait for life to happen. They are passive, go with the flow and take things as they come. Then there are the people who make life happen. They are aggressive, always looking for solutions and can't settle for mediocrity. I have always been this type of person. I don't just sit around and wait for opportunities to come my way. I can't. I meticulously plan and make sure that I am putting energy into the right direction in order for my dreams to come true. I realized that intensity is a quality that I possess and I feel very privileged that I am this way.

Some people in this world are afraid to dream and to push themselves beyond their limits. I don't know why, but some people are content with living a life with no responsibility or challenge. Sometimes I feel like I would love a life like this (especially when things are stressful and pressure filled), but then I get realistic and understand that this would never be a way that I could live life. I would feel so unsatisfied. What would be my purpose? I need to accomplish. I crave it. I need goals, I need direction and I need passion. Without these characteristics, my life would not feel complete.


So, as the next 35 days pass, I am going to be as consumed by this process as I can be. I am going to be as focused and intense as possible. Why? Because I want to be at my absolute best in Beijing and being intense is how I will get there.

Tick Tock, Tick Tock, Tick Tock.



Kyle


www.kyleshewfelt.com

CBC Interview

This past weekend, CBC aired an hour long documentary style piece about our Olympic selection. I thought it was great! I did an interview for this story and it appears at about the 2:05 mark.






Enjoy!

Kyle

www.kyleshewfelt.com