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Thursday, June 15, 2000
PROFILE: Alexander Jeltkov
Gymnasts strive to reach COA standards

Kyle Shewfelt has done all he can, and now he's hoping that the Canadian Olympic Association agrees that he deserves to go to the Summer Games.

Shewfelt, 18, a Calgarian with little international experience, was handed by Gymnastics Canada earlier this year the virtually impossible challenge of achieving a top-16 World Cup ranking to meet the COA's rigorous qualification standard to fill the second Olympic berth Canada's team earned at the 1999 world championships in China.

Alexander Jeltkov of Montreal, who won a silver medal on the horizontal bars at the worlds, had nailed down the top spot.

Nobody else met COA standards. Somebody had to try to do it in the last four World Cup meets before the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia.

''There's only one man who can do it and that's Kyle Shewfelt,'' men's program director Hardy Fink suggested.

Gymnastics Canada president Wilf Wedmann was skeptical.

''Oh, come on,'' Wedmann recalls telling Fink. ''He wasn't even selected for our world championship or Pan American Games teams.

''How's he going to go head to head with the best in the world in each competition and absolutely stick the performance each time?''

''He can,'' Fink insisted.

Handed the assignment, Shewfelt had to finish in the top eight in each competition to earn sufficient points to rank him in the top 16 on the World Cup ranking list. There was no room for failure.

''I think they thought of me because I'm a pretty consistent performer on the floor and in vaulting,'' Shewfelt recalled.

In March, he went to Montreux, Switzerland, and was seventh in the floor exercise. A week later, in Cottbus, Germany, he was seventh again. In April, he won bronze in Glasgow.
Alexander Jeltkov in the news
Medal hope Sasha Zeltkov eliminated
Jeltkov, Shewfelt primed to win medals
Gymnasts strive to reach COA standards
Jeltkov in pictures
On horizontal bar
On the high bar
Pan-Am Gold
Chalking up his hands