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
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.