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new interview with Canada's Kyle Shewfelt

Von: Vick444 (vick.da.sport.fan@gmail.com) [Profil]
Datum: 25.12.2008 07:00
Message-ID: <1ee4b8c3-ab18-4968-be26-4918295c4df6@m4g2000vbp.googlegroups.com>
Newsgroup: alt.sports.gymnastics
Interview: Kyle Shewfelt
http://www.intlgymnast.com/interview/719.html

Despite missing out on the floor exercise final at the Olympics in
August, 2004 Olympic floor champion Kyle Shewfelt of Canada said 2008
marked the "pinnacle of success" after his recovery from serious leg
injuries.
Shewfelt's very participation in Beijing was an accomplishment. He
injured both legs during an Aug. 27, 2007, training session at the
World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. After landing stiff-legged
on a tumbling element, he suffered displaced fractures on both legs,
as well as a chipped bone on his left knee and a stretched ligament.
Shewfelt, Canada's first Olympic gold medalist in artistic gymnastics,
underwent surgery two weeks later.

Following an intense period of rehabilitation, Shewfelt was named to
the Canadian team that competed in Beijing. He scored 15.525 on floor
exercise in qualifications, missing the cut-off for the event final
by .075.

The 26-year-old Shewfelt took Beijing in philosophical stride,
however, as a success in its own right. In this IG Online interview,
Shewfelt reflects on 2008 and projects towards the new year.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Three-time Canadian Olympian Kyle Shewfelt competes at the 2008
Olympics in Beijing
IG: Coming so close to the floor and team finals in Beijing, and based
on your injury, would you consider your performances in Beijing more
an achievement than a disappointment, or some combination of the two?

KS: My Beijing experience was an absolute achievement. I didn't win
another Olympic medal, but I overcame the biggest obstacle of my
career to be at the Games. I appreciated the opportunity to represent
my country at my third Olympic Games and I was honored to be a part of
such an incredible team. Throughout the process of coming back there
were times when it felt like I wouldn't be ready in time. I told
Edouard [Iarov], our national coach, that I didn't want to just be
placed on the team because of what I have done in the past. I wanted
to earn my spot. I believe that I pushed myself to my limit. It was a
phenomenal feeling to compete, knowing that the process of getting
there helped me grow as an athlete and person.

It was a little disappointing to come so close to finals, both team
and event, but I am firm believer that you have to base your happiness
on your performances and not on the outcomes. Everything happens for a
reason. We all performed brilliantly. We can always look back and say
what if. What if Brandon [O'Neill] hadn't been injured? What if we
would have brought in our alternate? What if a couple landings were
cleaner? But, you know what? You can't go back and change the past.
There is absolutely no point in looking back and wishing "What if?"
"What is" is reality, and I choose to see the positives and successes
rather than the negatives and disappointments.

The routine that I performed on floor was the most difficult routine
that I have ever done. It was an eye-opening experience for me to
realize that I could actually be better than I was before, even after
going through such a traumatic injury. It just goes to show you how
powerful the human spirit is.

IG: You seemed very positive after the competition in Beijing. How
have you been able to reconcile your Olympic experience in the months
since the Games?

KS: I was super-positive after the competition in Beijing because I
realized very quickly that I had done my best. It's a pretty
satisfying feeling to look back and have no regrets.

It was funny in the morning after our competition. I was walking
around the Olympic Village and it felt like I was attending my own
funeral. Everyone on the Canadian Olympic team was giving me
sympathetic looks and the "I'm so sorry" eyes. I didn't feel bad,
though. I was happy. I owed it to myself to smile. I didn't bust my
butt every minute for the past 11 months to be there and mope around
because I didn't make finals. I was choosing to be happy. But, after
experiencing everyone's reactions, I felt like maybe I did do
something wrong - like I did let my country down. So, in all honesty,
I did have a few hours where I felt like a loser and like I failed.
But then I started really thinking about it and decided that this was
not a failure. This was the pinnacle of success. Medals do not define
success. Personal achievement does.

It was a little bit difficult coming home and not having a medal
because the craziness was not anywhere near the same level as it was
in 2004. But I was OK with it. I needed some time to reconnect with my
family and friends and to get perspective on the whole experience. We
live in a very superficial world, and in the months following an
Olympic Games, a lot of the attention is given to the athletes with
the hardware. I realize that. I benefited from it in 2004. But I
believe I am wiser now, and after returning home from Beijing without
a medal, but with a tremendous personal victory, I am seeing that the
latter holds more value.

I think it takes time to come to terms with an Olympic experience,
whether good or bad, because you turn off your life for the goal and
then you have a lot of rebuilding to do when you get home. It's super
emotional and sometimes you just need to remove yourself from
everything "Olympic" for awhile because it's all you have thought of
and known for a year leading up. I feel that now, four months after
Beijing, I am almost able to look back on the experience and see it
for what it was. I feel far enough removed that I have a greater
perspective.

IG: How close to 100 percent "repaired" are you?

KS: I actually had surgery on Nov. 6 to remove the plate and four
screws from my left leg. It was really starting to bother me, and I
just didn't want to have metal in my legs if I didn't have to. I was
taking a nice dose of anti-inflammatory during the Olympics, but I
stopped taking it after the Games and noticed that my leg hurt a lot
more. I always had a burning sensation in my leg because the plate was
right on the attachment of the hamstring, but I knew that I would have
to suck it up before the Games because recovering from another surgery
wasn't an option.

I met with my surgeon shortly after coming home from Beijing, and he
said that it would be safe to take out the hardware because the bone
was totally healed. So I opted to do the surgery, and the result has
been awesome. I don't have the burning sensation anymore and I am a
lot more comfortable, especially when it's cold out! I still have the
screw in my right knee, but it doesn't bother me, so I will keep it in
there. Post-surgery is not a fun experience and I will avoid it if I
can!

I don't think my legs will ever be quite the same as they were before
the accident. It's a lot harder to put on muscle mass, and my knees
are pretty sensitive to touch. I like having the scars, though,
because they constantly remind me to never take anything for granted.

IG: What are some of the targets you have set for yourself, in and out
of the gym, for 2009?

KS: I want 2009 to be a year filled with love, success, fun,
interaction, gratitude, growth, failure, new experiences and genuine
happiness. Failure probably doesn't seem like it fits in there, but I
believe that failure is the best way to learn. I want to embrace every
possibility that 2009 presents. I have a feeling it's going to be an
incredible year!

IG: As 2008 comes to a close, how much longer do you see yourself
doing gymnastics?

KS: That's a hard question for me to answer. I see myself being
involved in gymnastics forever, but I am taking it day by day when it
comes to the actual "doing gymnastics" part. Right now, I am trying to
be diligent in my recovery from surgery and take my time setting new
gymnastic goals. I want them to be heartfelt, or they aren't worth
pursuing.

IG: Outside of training, what are some of the promotional and
professional activities you've done since Beijing?

KS: I have done a bunch of appearances and talks around the country
promoting sport and the Olympics. I am really trying to get the point
across that outcomes do not define us  it's our journeys that do. The
lessons we learn, the people we meet, the obstacles we overcome and
the experiences we have leading up to a moment are what make us who we
are. We don't instantly become a good person because we win an Olympic
gold medal. Some of the best and most inspiring athletes I have ever
met will never win Olympic gold, but they are incredible examples and
leaders to emulate.

IG: How and where do you plan to spend the Christmas and New Year
holidays?

KS: I am plan on spending the holidays in Calgary with my family and
friends. I don't have any crazy plans - just enjoying the wonderful
company and living in the moment. 'Tis the season to be jolly, and I
have already been party-hopping like a mad man. I love the spirit of
Christmas. It's a very special time of year and I have always been
very fortunate to get to spend it with the people I love.

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