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Shewfelt shows champion's spirit

The judges may have been "a little harsh" on him, but Canadian gymnast Kyle Shewfelt said Sunday that he still feels like an Olympic champion despite failing to qualify for the men's floor final in Beijing.

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."