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Gymnastics

Chinese gymnast wins men's all-around title

Canadian Adam Wong places 15th, best-ever Olympic finish for a Canadian man

CBC Sports @ CBC.CA

Chinese gymnast Yang Wei won the men’s individual all-around title Thursday, leading the competition from start to finish.

Japan’s Kohei Uchmiura and Benoit Caranobe of France won the silver and bronze respectively.

Canadian Adam Wong placed 15th, two places ahead of compatriot Nathan Gafuik.

Wong’s finish was the best-ever for a Canadian man at the Olympics. “It’s amazing,” he told the CBC. “You train so hard preparing for this moment.”

Yang was a heavy favourite heading into the Games. He won the world title in 2006 and 2007 and won the silver at the 2000 Sydney Games.

Neither of the other two medal winners were expected to end up on the podium.

German star Fabian Hambuechen’s medal hopes were dashed when he fell off the high bar, an event he normally dominates. He appeared on the verge of tears immediately afterwards. He placed 7th.

Hambuechen, 20, was the youngest male competitor at the 2004 Athens Games. He won a silver in the individual all-around at last year’s worlds.


Chinese gymnast wins men’s all-around title

Canadian Adam Wong places 15th, best-ever Olympic finish for a Canadian man

CBC Sports @ CBC.CA

Chinese gymnast Yang Wei won the men’s individual all-around title Thursday, leading the competition from start to finish.

Japan’s Kohei Uchmiura and Benoit Caranobe of France won the silver and bronze respectively.

Canadian Adam Wong placed 15th, two places ahead of compatriot Nathan Gafuik.

Wong’s finish was the best-ever for a Canadian man at the Olympics. “It’s amazing,” he told the CBC. “You train so hard preparing for this moment.”

Yang was a heavy favourite heading into the Games. He won the world title in 2006 and 2007 and won the silver at the 2000 Sydney Games.

Neither of the other two medal winners were expected to end up on the podium.

German star Fabian Hambuechen’s medal hopes were dashed when he fell off the high bar, an event he normally dominates. He appeared on the verge of tears immediately afterwards. He placed 7th.

Hambuechen, 20, was the youngest male competitor at the 2004 Athens Games. He won a silver in the individual all-around at last year’s worlds.


Shewfelt shows champion's spirit

Kyle Shewfelt fell short Saturday in his bid to qualify for the gymnastics floor final in Beijing. (Amy Sancetta/Canadian Press)

CBC Sports @ CBC.CA

The defence of his Olympic gymnastics floor title didn’t go as he had hoped, but Kyle Shewfelt still feels like a champion.

The Calgarian, who battled back from two broken legs to make it to the Beijing Games and defend the gold medal he won in 2004 in Athens, failed to qualify Saturday for the floor final in China.

Though the Shewfelt-led Canadian men’s team also fell short of its final, Shewfelt told CBC Sports’ Ron MacLean on Sunday that he was proud of his and the squad’s performances, calling them “giant victories.”

“The dream came true for me in 2004, but this time around there was something different,” Shewfelt said. “There was something special, but on a different level.”

Shewfelt, 26, produced a solid vault performance and strong floor routine, but was left out of the top eight in both events. He finished 12th in the vault and 11th in the floor, where he scored 15.525 out of a possible 17 points.

Some felt the floor score was too low — including Canadian head coach Edouard Iarov, who called the judges’ numbers “crazy.”

‘Harsh’ scores

The gymnast agreed with that sentiment on Sunday, calling his floor mark “a little harsh” given the high difficulty of his routine.

“I thought this was a really good routine,” Shewfelt said. “I had some hops and stuff, but [the routine] is so difficult that those are really unavoidable.

“I really didn’t feel that I got rewarded for [the tougher elements]. But I’m very proud of this routine. At the end of it, I felt like I was an Olympic champion again.”

Shewfelt didn’t mention any lingering effects from the gruesome injury he suffered at last summer’s world championships in Germany, where a training mishap left him with ligament damage and two broken legs that had to be surgically repaired.

“I was ready. I was so ready to compete,” Shewfelt said. “There was an Olympic energy and we felt phenomenal.”

Shewfelt was particularly proud of his performance in the vault, which he said he “nailed.”

“That’s what the Olympics are about. That’s what I worked so hard for, to have a moment like that,” he said.

“That was perfection. That was beautiful.”


Shewfelt shows champion’s spirit

Kyle Shewfelt fell short Saturday in his bid to qualify for the gymnastics floor final in Beijing. (Amy Sancetta/Canadian Press)

CBC Sports @ CBC.CA

The defence of his Olympic gymnastics floor title didn’t go as he had hoped, but Kyle Shewfelt still feels like a champion.

The Calgarian, who battled back from two broken legs to make it to the Beijing Games and defend the gold medal he won in 2004 in Athens, failed to qualify Saturday for the floor final in China.

Though the Shewfelt-led Canadian men’s team also fell short of its final, Shewfelt told CBC Sports’ Ron MacLean on Sunday that he was proud of his and the squad’s performances, calling them “giant victories.”

“The dream came true for me in 2004, but this time around there was something different,” Shewfelt said. “There was something special, but on a different level.”

Shewfelt, 26, produced a solid vault performance and strong floor routine, but was left out of the top eight in both events. He finished 12th in the vault and 11th in the floor, where he scored 15.525 out of a possible 17 points.

Some felt the floor score was too low — including Canadian head coach Edouard Iarov, who called the judges’ numbers “crazy.”

‘Harsh’ scores

The gymnast agreed with that sentiment on Sunday, calling his floor mark “a little harsh” given the high difficulty of his routine.

“I thought this was a really good routine,” Shewfelt said. “I had some hops and stuff, but [the routine] is so difficult that those are really unavoidable.

“I really didn’t feel that I got rewarded for [the tougher elements]. But I’m very proud of this routine. At the end of it, I felt like I was an Olympic champion again.”

Shewfelt didn’t mention any lingering effects from the gruesome injury he suffered at last summer’s world championships in Germany, where a training mishap left him with ligament damage and two broken legs that had to be surgically repaired.

“I was ready. I was so ready to compete,” Shewfelt said. “There was an Olympic energy and we felt phenomenal.”

Shewfelt was particularly proud of his performance in the vault, which he said he “nailed.”

“That’s what the Olympics are about. That’s what I worked so hard for, to have a moment like that,” he said.

“That was perfection. That was beautiful.”


Shewfelt, men's team fail to qualify

Kyle Shewfelt focuses during his floor routine in qualification in Beijing. (Canadian Press)

Kyle Shewfelt’s: Blog Link Here

Less than a year after breaking both his legs in a training mishap, Canadian Olympian Kyle Shewfelt failed to qualify for the gymnastics floor final Saturday in China.

Shewfelt looked strong during the qualification competition with a solid vault performance and strong floor routine, but was left out of the top eight in both events and will not advance to defend his gold medal in the floor exercise.

He finished 12th in the vault and 11th in the floor routine, where he scored 15.525 out of a possible 17 points.

“It’s been the biggest challenge of my life,” the Calgary gymnast said.

“I’ve had to search for small victories every single day. I feel my experiences over the last 11 months have been so rich and taught me so much about myself, about the strength that I have.

“It was phenomenal to be out there competing today because I know I worked my tail off to earn my spot on the team.”

Scoring is disputed

Shewfelt called the scoring “a little bit low.”

Canadian head coach Edouard Iarov was less charitable.

“Kyle’s floor … should have been a 15.8 at least,” said Iarov. “And he gets, what, 15.5? This is crazy. It must be some kind of game. I am very unhappy.”

Shewfelt’s teammate, Brandon O’Neill, was equally unlucky. Hampered by an ankle injury he suffered a few days ago, O’Neill foundered on the vault and the parallel bars, and didn’t complete his floor routine.

“It’s gross,” a disappointed O’Neill told CBC afterwards.

“I don’t want to say too much at the moment, but I’m just proud of [my teammates]. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to come out and do what I wanted but these guys pulled together, and they were awesome.”

The qualification process included three competitions, each of which included a handful of teams. The results of all three competitions are combined.

The Canadian men’s team finished in ninth place overall and will not advance to the team final.

There was some good news for the Canadian men, as Nathan Gafuik and Adam Wong qualified for Thursday’s all-around final. Gafuik was 20th, four spots ahead of Wong.

“I haven’t had a chance to digest it yet,” said Gafuik. “We were so focused on doing the team competition that we didn’t really have time to think about what could happen after with the qualification in different things as individuals.”

China leads individual and team events

China’s Yang Wei topped the individual all-around competition with 93.875 points, followed by Fabian Hambuechen of Germany with 92.425 and Korea’s Daeeun Kim at 92.400.

China also topped the team qualification, ahead of second place Japan and third place Russia.

The U.S. team competed without brothers Paul and Morgan Hamm, who sat out the competition with injuries.

American Alexander Artemev dazzled on the pommel horse, executing a series of spindles in which his legs appeared to fly in every direction. Artemev led the Americans into sixth place.

Leaders in the individual apparatus were: Hambuechen of Germany (horizontal bars), Diego Hypolito of Brazil (floor exercise), Marian Dragulescu of Romania (vault), and China’s Yibing Chen (rings), Qin Xiaio (pommel horse), and Xiaopeng Li (parallel bars).

Saturday’s qualification determined:

  • The eight teams that will compete in the team final Aug. 11.
  • The 24 individuals who will compete for the all-round title Aug. 14.
  • The individuals who will compete for the various apparatus titles Aug. 17-19. Each apparatus final includes eight athletes.

Canadian gymnasts take great leap forward

Brandon O’Neill, seen here at last year’s world championships in Germany, is one of six male gymnasts chosen to represent Canada in Beijing. (Michael Probst/Asssociated Press)

When he looked up at the electronic scoreboard, Jeff Thomson knew the Canadian men were capable of great things.

They had arrived in Turkey for the 2005 World University Games hoping to do well but had exceeded expectations. They had finished fifth in the gymnastics team competition, ahead of the mighty Russians.

“The World University Games is the highest level of competition outside the world championships and the Olympics,” says Thomson, the men’s program director at Gymnastics Canada. “So that result was really impressive.”

Ten years ago, the Canadian men’s team would have been lucky to finish in the top 12 at an elite event. But times have changed. The team is the strongest it has ever been, and is poised to make its mark in Beijing.

Thomson traces the team’s ascent to 2000, when Edouard Iarov took over as head coach. The native of Kazakhstan had groomed several champion gymnasts, first in the former Soviet Union and then in France.

He gained prominence as coach of gymnast Valeri Liukin. The Russian won four medals (two gold, two silver) at the 1988 Seoul Games.

“Edouard’s attitude is that you don’t go to the Olympics just to participate,” Thomson explains. “You go there to win.”

Eight promising young men

Soon after Iarov arrived, Gymnastics Canada earmarked more money for the development of eight promising young men, sending them to more competitions and training camps.

The effort paid off.

Eight months after finishing fifth in Turkey, the men placed second at the Pacific Alliance Championships in Hawaii. They finished behind Japan but ahead of China and the United States, both gymnastics powers.

In October 2006, the Canadians placed fifth in the qualification round and sixth overall at the world championships in Denmark. It was the Canadian men’s best finish ever at the annual event.

“We knew we were going to do well, but we never imagined that going out there and doing our routines would put us in the top five in the qualification round,” gymnast Kyle Shewfelt says. “We were all a little shocked and giddy when we looked up at the scoreboard.”

Shewfelt and teammate Adam Wong sat out last year’s world championships in Germany because they were injured, but the team managed to finish eleventh and win the right to send a full contingent (six competitors and one alternate) to Beijing.

It was a testament to the depth of talent on the men’s side.

“In a sense, that eleventh-place finish in Germany was more impressive than the sixth-place finish in Denmark,” says Thomson. “We qualified without two of our strongest competitors. Many teams could not have done that.”

Shewfelt hits road bump

Shewfelt is the biggest name on the men’s team. At the 2004 Athens Games, he became the first Canadian to win a medal in artistic gymnastics when he struck gold in the floor exercise. He won a bronze medal in that event at the 2006 world championships, where he was the only Canadian man to qualify for an individual final.

The gymnast was gathering speed on the road to Beijing when he hit a road bump. At a training session just before last year’s world championships, he botched a landing, breaking both legs and damaging some ligaments.

He underwent reconstructive surgery soon after and spent months on the sidelines. Almost a year later, he is still not fully recovered. Yet he is too good to be discounted in Beijing.

“I don’t even think about him not being ready. In my mind, he’s there,” Gymnastics Canada President Jean-Paul Caron told a Calgary newspaper. “Kyle Shewfelt at even 70 or 80 per cent is a huge help to our team.

“There’s a chance he may not be at 100 per cent [in Beijing]. We have to face that fact. But he’ll find a way around it. I’m confident of that. He’s a fighter.”

The 26-year-old athlete proved Caron right at a test event in June, when he returned to competition for the first time since he was injured.

On the first day of the event, he competed against his teammates on the floor, vault, rings and high bar. He posted the best result on vault and finished second in the floor exercise.

O’Neill ‘a powerful athlete’

One of his teammates did even better. Brandon O’Neill finished first on the floor and parallel bars and placed second on the vault and high bar.

O’Neill hurt his ankle while training Aug. 4 but, at this point, is still expecting to compete in Beijing. “He is an unsung hero,” Thomson says. “Look at his results. They’re remarkable.”

O’Neill won a silver medal in the floor exercise at the 2005 world championships in Australia. Also, he has won three gold, five silver and two bronze medals in the past four years of World Cup competition. All but one (a silver in the vault) were in the floor exercise.

Thomson describes the 23-year-old gymnast as a “powerful athlete” whose muscular build makes him well suited to the vault and the floor.

Thomson says O’Neill’s tumbling is as good as that of his competitors, if not better, and believes he has a good chance of winning a medal in Beijing as long as he sticks his landings.

Gymnastics Canada officials are optimistic that Shewfelt and O’Neill will make their event finals, and Thomson is “hopeful” about a couple of the others — especially parallel bars specialist Grant Golding and Nathan Gafuik, who excels in the parallel bars and the high bar.

Golding, Gafuik, Wong and David Kikuchi will join Shewfelt and O’Neill in Beijing. Kikuchi is from Fall River, N.S., and O’Neill is from Edmonton. The other four athletes are from Calgary.

Ken Ikeda of Abbotsford, B.C., is the first alternate, while Jared Walls of Edmonton is second reserve.

“The six starters have shown they can make World Cup finals. So, on a good day, they could make the Olympic finals,” says Thomson. “And once you’re there, anything can happen.”

“We have a very balanced and experienced team, and we all know how to nail our routines when the pressure is on,” adds Shewfelt.

With several top gymnasts in their prime and more money coming in — Thomson says the men’s team now receives eight times more funding than it did in 1999 from Sport Canada, the Canadian Olympic Committee and Gymnastics Canada combined — the future looks bright for the team.

Thomson is excited about the future, and about what he might see when he looks up at the scoreboard in Beijing.

“I am not going to predict a medal,” says Shewfelt, “but I believe this is Canada’s greatest gymnastics team ever, and we are going to surprise a lot of people with our performance.”


Shewfelt, men’s team fail to qualify

Kyle Shewfelt focuses during his floor routine in qualification in Beijing. (Canadian Press)

Kyle Shewfelt’s: Blog Link Here

Less than a year after breaking both his legs in a training mishap, Canadian Olympian Kyle Shewfelt failed to qualify for the gymnastics floor final Saturday in China.

Shewfelt looked strong during the qualification competition with a solid vault performance and strong floor routine, but was left out of the top eight in both events and will not advance to defend his gold medal in the floor exercise.

He finished 12th in the vault and 11th in the floor routine, where he scored 15.525 out of a possible 17 points.

“It’s been the biggest challenge of my life,” the Calgary gymnast said.

“I’ve had to search for small victories every single day. I feel my experiences over the last 11 months have been so rich and taught me so much about myself, about the strength that I have.

“It was phenomenal to be out there competing today because I know I worked my tail off to earn my spot on the team.”

Scoring is disputed

Shewfelt called the scoring “a little bit low.”

Canadian head coach Edouard Iarov was less charitable.

“Kyle’s floor … should have been a 15.8 at least,” said Iarov. “And he gets, what, 15.5? This is crazy. It must be some kind of game. I am very unhappy.”

Shewfelt’s teammate, Brandon O’Neill, was equally unlucky. Hampered by an ankle injury he suffered a few days ago, O’Neill foundered on the vault and the parallel bars, and didn’t complete his floor routine.

“It’s gross,” a disappointed O’Neill told CBC afterwards.

“I don’t want to say too much at the moment, but I’m just proud of [my teammates]. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to come out and do what I wanted but these guys pulled together, and they were awesome.”

The qualification process included three competitions, each of which included a handful of teams. The results of all three competitions are combined.

The Canadian men’s team finished in ninth place overall and will not advance to the team final.

There was some good news for the Canadian men, as Nathan Gafuik and Adam Wong qualified for Thursday’s all-around final. Gafuik was 20th, four spots ahead of Wong.

“I haven’t had a chance to digest it yet,” said Gafuik. “We were so focused on doing the team competition that we didn’t really have time to think about what could happen after with the qualification in different things as individuals.”

China leads individual and team events

China’s Yang Wei topped the individual all-around competition with 93.875 points, followed by Fabian Hambuechen of Germany with 92.425 and Korea’s Daeeun Kim at 92.400.

China also topped the team qualification, ahead of second place Japan and third place Russia.

The U.S. team competed without brothers Paul and Morgan Hamm, who sat out the competition with injuries.

American Alexander Artemev dazzled on the pommel horse, executing a series of spindles in which his legs appeared to fly in every direction. Artemev led the Americans into sixth place.

Leaders in the individual apparatus were: Hambuechen of Germany (horizontal bars), Diego Hypolito of Brazil (floor exercise), Marian Dragulescu of Romania (vault), and China’s Yibing Chen (rings), Qin Xiaio (pommel horse), and Xiaopeng Li (parallel bars).

Saturday’s qualification determined:

  • The eight teams that will compete in the team final Aug. 11.
  • The 24 individuals who will compete for the all-round title Aug. 14.
  • The individuals who will compete for the various apparatus titles Aug. 17-19. Each apparatus final includes eight athletes.

Canadian gymnasts take great leap forward

Brandon O’Neill, seen here at last year’s world championships in Germany, is one of six male gymnasts chosen to represent Canada in Beijing. (Michael Probst/Asssociated Press)

When he looked up at the electronic scoreboard, Jeff Thomson knew the Canadian men were capable of great things.

They had arrived in Turkey for the 2005 World University Games hoping to do well but had exceeded expectations. They had finished fifth in the gymnastics team competition, ahead of the mighty Russians.

“The World University Games is the highest level of competition outside the world championships and the Olympics,” says Thomson, the men’s program director at Gymnastics Canada. “So that result was really impressive.”

Ten years ago, the Canadian men’s team would have been lucky to finish in the top 12 at an elite event. But times have changed. The team is the strongest it has ever been, and is poised to make its mark in Beijing.

Thomson traces the team’s ascent to 2000, when Edouard Iarov took over as head coach. The native of Kazakhstan had groomed several champion gymnasts, first in the former Soviet Union and then in France.

He gained prominence as coach of gymnast Valeri Liukin. The Russian won four medals (two gold, two silver) at the 1988 Seoul Games.

“Edouard’s attitude is that you don’t go to the Olympics just to participate,” Thomson explains. “You go there to win.”

Eight promising young men

Soon after Iarov arrived, Gymnastics Canada earmarked more money for the development of eight promising young men, sending them to more competitions and training camps.

The effort paid off.

Eight months after finishing fifth in Turkey, the men placed second at the Pacific Alliance Championships in Hawaii. They finished behind Japan but ahead of China and the United States, both gymnastics powers.

In October 2006, the Canadians placed fifth in the qualification round and sixth overall at the world championships in Denmark. It was the Canadian men’s best finish ever at the annual event.

“We knew we were going to do well, but we never imagined that going out there and doing our routines would put us in the top five in the qualification round,” gymnast Kyle Shewfelt says. “We were all a little shocked and giddy when we looked up at the scoreboard.”

Shewfelt and teammate Adam Wong sat out last year’s world championships in Germany because they were injured, but the team managed to finish eleventh and win the right to send a full contingent (six competitors and one alternate) to Beijing.

It was a testament to the depth of talent on the men’s side.

“In a sense, that eleventh-place finish in Germany was more impressive than the sixth-place finish in Denmark,” says Thomson. “We qualified without two of our strongest competitors. Many teams could not have done that.”

Shewfelt hits road bump

Shewfelt is the biggest name on the men’s team. At the 2004 Athens Games, he became the first Canadian to win a medal in artistic gymnastics when he struck gold in the floor exercise. He won a bronze medal in that event at the 2006 world championships, where he was the only Canadian man to qualify for an individual final.

The gymnast was gathering speed on the road to Beijing when he hit a road bump. At a training session just before last year’s world championships, he botched a landing, breaking both legs and damaging some ligaments.

He underwent reconstructive surgery soon after and spent months on the sidelines. Almost a year later, he is still not fully recovered. Yet he is too good to be discounted in Beijing.

“I don’t even think about him not being ready. In my mind, he’s there,” Gymnastics Canada President Jean-Paul Caron told a Calgary newspaper. “Kyle Shewfelt at even 70 or 80 per cent is a huge help to our team.

“There’s a chance he may not be at 100 per cent [in Beijing]. We have to face that fact. But he’ll find a way around it. I’m confident of that. He’s a fighter.”

The 26-year-old athlete proved Caron right at a test event in June, when he returned to competition for the first time since he was injured.

On the first day of the event, he competed against his teammates on the floor, vault, rings and high bar. He posted the best result on vault and finished second in the floor exercise.

O’Neill ‘a powerful athlete’

One of his teammates did even better. Brandon O’Neill finished first on the floor and parallel bars and placed second on the vault and high bar.

O’Neill hurt his ankle while training Aug. 4 but, at this point, is still expecting to compete in Beijing. “He is an unsung hero,” Thomson says. “Look at his results. They’re remarkable.”

O’Neill won a silver medal in the floor exercise at the 2005 world championships in Australia. Also, he has won three gold, five silver and two bronze medals in the past four years of World Cup competition. All but one (a silver in the vault) were in the floor exercise.

Thomson describes the 23-year-old gymnast as a “powerful athlete” whose muscular build makes him well suited to the vault and the floor.

Thomson says O’Neill’s tumbling is as good as that of his competitors, if not better, and believes he has a good chance of winning a medal in Beijing as long as he sticks his landings.

Gymnastics Canada officials are optimistic that Shewfelt and O’Neill will make their event finals, and Thomson is “hopeful” about a couple of the others — especially parallel bars specialist Grant Golding and Nathan Gafuik, who excels in the parallel bars and the high bar.

Golding, Gafuik, Wong and David Kikuchi will join Shewfelt and O’Neill in Beijing. Kikuchi is from Fall River, N.S., and O’Neill is from Edmonton. The other four athletes are from Calgary.

Ken Ikeda of Abbotsford, B.C., is the first alternate, while Jared Walls of Edmonton is second reserve.

“The six starters have shown they can make World Cup finals. So, on a good day, they could make the Olympic finals,” says Thomson. “And once you’re there, anything can happen.”

“We have a very balanced and experienced team, and we all know how to nail our routines when the pressure is on,” adds Shewfelt.

With several top gymnasts in their prime and more money coming in — Thomson says the men’s team now receives eight times more funding than it did in 1999 from Sport Canada, the Canadian Olympic Committee and Gymnastics Canada combined — the future looks bright for the team.

Thomson is excited about the future, and about what he might see when he looks up at the scoreboard in Beijing.

“I am not going to predict a medal,” says Shewfelt, “but I believe this is Canada’s greatest gymnastics team ever, and we are going to surprise a lot of people with our performance.”