A native of the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, Alexander Jeltkov
established himself last season as Canada's top Olympic medal hope in men's
gymnastics winning the silver medal on men's high bar at the world
championships. Canada has not fielded a gymnast of this calibre since the
glory days of Curtis Hibbert in the late 1980's and early 1990's.
"His performance at the worlds wasn't a surprise to us," said Hardy Fink,
head coach of the Canadian men's team. "This is a guy who can basically do
whatever he wants on the high bar. He actually made a mistake in the
qualifying round at the worlds. But he adjusted by sticking in a double
somersault with a half-turn-over-the-bar-catch and did it perfectly even
though he never practiced the manoeuvre."
Jeltkov has shown that performance was not a fluke with three more medals
at international meets since then including a victory on high bar this past
March at a World Cup in Germany. He is looking at increasing the
difficulty of his routine even though he can score as high as 9.70.
Thje 22-year-old moved to Canada after spending a year in Israel in 1990.
He started gymnastics at age five in his native Georgia and entered his
first competition at nine. He made the Canadian national team for the
first time in 1996.
"He's the first gymnast we've had in long time that's interested inmore
than just participating at the Olympics," said Fink. "He wants to win the
gold medal. We haven't had anyone with that mindset since Hibbert. He
trains hard and perseveres towards the goal and he still has all the
qualities from his early Soviet training."
Sasha Jeltkov, Montreal, was 92nd after only competing in the floor exercises and the horizontal bar, failed to advance past the preliminary round in the event.
Alexander Jeltkov practices
Canadians Jeltkov & Kyle Shewfelt
2000 Games Gymnastics Coverage
2000 Games Alexander Jeltkov Section