Gymnastics Canada Gymnastique came out with this awesome release today that totally made me tear up. Thanks for all of the kind words!
Kyle Shewfelt takes his place in the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame
Posted Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Kyle Shewfelt,who blazed a trail from the Altadore gymnastics club in Calgary to an historic Olympic gold medal in Athens, Greece, will reach another pinnacle of success on Wednesday, November 10th, with his formal induction into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.
A little more than two years after his last competition at the 2008 Beijing Olympics Shewfelt will join a star-studded group of five other athletes and two builders at the Hall of Fame ceremony in Calgary.
Joining Kyle in the class of 2010 are hockey star Patrick Roy, race car driver Jacques Villeneuve, wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc, speedskater Clara Hughes, freestyle skier Jean-Luc Brassard, Dr. Roger Jackson, a key figure in the Olympic movement as both an athlete and administrator and the late football legend Bob Ackles.
“Kyle Shewfelt is the best and most successful artistic gymnast ever produced in Canada,” says Gymnastics Canada President and CEO, Jean-Paul Caron. “He is a unique and remarkable ambassador for Canada and the sport of gymnastics and an exceptional role model for our upcoming generation of champions.”
Shewfelt began his record-breaking gymnastics career in 1988 as a six-year-old bundle of energy who immediately fell in love with the sport that would become a driving force in his life for the next 20 years.
Kyle got his first taste of international competition in Austria and Hungary in 1996 and by the late 1990s was beginning to make his mark on the international scene.
Following his 12th place finish on floor at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Kyle’s career took off. Among the highlights were two gold and one silver medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, two bronze medals at the 2003 world championships, and three gold and two silver on the World Cup circuit leading up to the 2004 Olympics.
Kyle reached for the stars at the Athens Olympics on a hot summer night in 2004 and came away with Canada’s first ever Olympic medal in artistic gymnastics, winning gold in the men’s floor exercise.
Making his Olympic victory all the more remarkable was the fact that Kyle had suffered a serious injury to his left foot just a few months before the Games. The setback, which caused his withdrawal from the 2004 Canadian championships, did not deter him from delivering a flawless performance in Athens.
Kyle also came close to winning a second medal in Athens in the vault final but had to settle for fourth after a controversial judging decision kept him off the podium.
After taking a year off following the Games, Kyle made a triumphant return to competition at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, leading the men’s squad to gold in the team event, and adding another gold on vault and bronze on floor.
By then, Kyle Shewfelt’s legacy was already building as the only Canadian artistic gymnast to win a medal of any kind at the Olympics, a glittering achievment that put Canada on the map in the gymnastics world in a way that it had never known before and sparked a new era in Canadian gymnastics.
Soon after Kyle’s thrilling performance at the 2004 Olympics, other Canadian gymnasts made their own international breakthroughs: Brandon O’Neill won silver on floor at the 2005 world championships, joining Kyle, Curtis Hibbert and Alexander Jeltkov as the only Canadian men to win world championship medals.
In 2006, Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, inspired by Kyle like every other member of the national team, became the first, and so far, only Canadian female gymnast to win a world championship medal, earning bronze on the balance beam.
At the same world championships in Arhus, Denmark, Kyle led the Canadian men’s team to its best ever finish -- reaching the final for the first time and ultimately placing sixth among the superpowers of the sport, including Russia, China, Japan and the United States.
The stage appeared to be set for Kyle’s dramatic return to the Olympics in 2008 to defend his crown in the floor exercise.
But disaster struck at the 2007 world championships in Stuttgart, Germany when he broke both knees just days before the start of competition in a routine practice session.
Following a long and difficult recovery, Kyle returned to competition nine months later at the Olympic team selection trials and picked up right where he left off almost a year before.
He won all four test events on vault and placed either first or second in all of the floor competitions to earn his third trip to the Olympic Games.
With steely resolve and total commitment, Kyle had overcome the greatest obstacle he had ever faced as a gymnast and seemed on the verge of capping his miracle comeback with another Olympic medal in Beijing.
At the Beijing Games, Kyle performed a routine even more difficult that the one he nailed in Athens four years earlier, but it wasn’t enough to get him into the eight-man final in the eyes of the judges.
He also came close to making the vault final, but had to settle for ninth, just one spot out of the top-eight he needed to advance.
Not long after seeing his results go up on the scoreboard, Kyle, looking no different than he did the night he won gold four years earlier, faced the media in the crowded mixed zone of Beijing’s gigantic Indoor Stadium and explained what mattered most in his extraordinary comeback was the journey and not the end result.
"Every day I had laid in bed and imagined myself competing at the Olympics," said Kyle, his eyes a little wet. "And today I did, and it was beautiful.
“I've had to search for little victories every single day. You don't get that from winning a medal. Eleven months ago I was given this challenge that seemed impossible. And today I was out there competing in the Olympic Games, representing Canada, and being part of an incredible team. I can only smile.”
Since retiring Kyle has remained active on the Canadian gymnastics scene as a commentator for CBC broadcasts and as a roving ambassador and spokesperson for Gymnastics Canada.
Gymnastics Canada salutes Kyle for his tremendous contribution to gymnastics and his selection to the Sports Hall of Fame.