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    Monday, February 16, 1998

    Inspiration rocks Elvis

    By STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

      Elvis Stojko has proved time and again he can handle an enormous amount of physical pain.
     But a fax he received from a little girl from Barrie following his courageous long program on Saturday was more than the three-time world figure skating champion could handle.
      Breaking into tears, a rare display of public emotion, skating's Terminator said the letter put his entire struggle at the Winter Games into perspective.
     "She said she was going into in her first competition on the weekend and she had a really bad flu, and she was really scared she wasn't going to win. But she said that ... she saw me skate and knew that I was sick and said 'If Elvis can do it, I can do it too.' "
     At that point, figure skating's tough guy broke down. "And ... it kind of makes you think of what it's all about," he said.
     After taking a few seconds to compose himself, Stojko added: "You should know I'm not going for an Oscar right here -- but stuff like that kind of tells you what you're doing it for."
     Meeting reporters for the first time since his gallant silver-medal performance, Stojko, 25, described in detail yesterday the trials and tribulations of dealing with a serious groin injury this past week in the face of attempting to become the first Canadian to win the Olympic gold in the men's singles competition.
     As he had relayed to The Toronto Sun in a fax Saturday, Stojko said he originally hurt his groin at the Canadian championships last month and aggravated the injury during the Olympic short program last Thursday.
     The Richmond Hill skater said he could hardly walk after the short. That, combined with a serious bout of influenza, pretty well sealed his fate as a non-contender for the gold medal. Still, through a series of acupuncture treatments and legal medications, he almost pulled it off, landing eight triples during his long program while in terrific pain, and finishing second behind Russian Ilia Kulik.
     "I came here to do a job and skate my best and under the circumstances, I couldn't have done anything more," he said. "With the injury I think I did a pretty good job of holding things together."
     Apparently many other Canadians felt the same way, as Stojko was flooded with messages of support, including one from PM Jean Chretien.
     "You want to have that perfect performance and have everything (perfect) happen for you," Stojko said. "But life isn't quite like that, so you have to learn to deal with what you have and not what you think you should have.
     "In my own way, I won the battle because I didn't give up."