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Shewfelt to miss gymnastics nationals

Top Canadian gymnast Kyle Shewfelt has withdrawn from the Canadian Championships in Calgary because of injury.

Top Canadian gymnast Kyle Shewfelt has withdrawn from the Canadian championships in Calgary because he is still recovering from an injury suffered last year.

Shewfelt, who won a gold medal in the floor exercise at the 2004 Olympics, broke both legs in a training accident before the 2007 world championships. He had reconstructive surgery soon after.

He wrote on his online blog Tuesday that he is not ready to compete: "I wanted to be prepared to compete because the opportunity was so awesome.… But, I'm not quite there yet."

Shewfelt said he originally viewed the Canadian championships as a way to show his progression, and was excited to compete this week in Calgary, his hometown.

"I'm just not ready to go out there and make myself vulnerable. I am not confident enough yet to come out of this competition with positive feelings," he wrote.

The Canadian championships are the start of the Olympic qualifying process for gymnastics. The process ends in July with a series of tests in which gymnastics officials assess the various competitors. They will choose six men to go to Beijing.

"I have been assured that I will be invited to the camps and I will get a fair shot at making this team," he said. "Everyone at Gymnastics Canada has been extremely supportive. My spot will not be jeopardized."

"You have to look at each athlete individually," said Jeff Thomson, men's program director at Gymnastics Canada. "Kyle is an Olympian, and we trust him when he says it’s not quite time yet. He knows himself better than anyone."

Though Shewfelt, 26, expressed optimism in being able to defend his Olympic title in Beijing, he faces stiff competition in his bid to get there.

Several world-class athletes are competing to be on the men’s team. Grant Golding, Adam Wong and Nathan Gafuik are in that group, as are David Kikuchi, Ken Ikeda and Brandon O'Neill.

In the women’s competition, Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs is a top contender on beam and uneven bars. Nansy Damianova and Kristina Vaculike are also expected to make an impression at the event, which runs until Sunday.

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