Canadian gymnast Kevin Lytwyn said he and his teammates are confident that their performances at this week's world championships in Rotterdam will be their first collective step towards qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
The Canadian men compete Monday in Subdivision 3 of the men's qualification.
"We have a very positive attitude coming into these worlds," Lytwyn told IG. "We are in between teams at the moment, meaning some of our older, more experienced gymnasts have retired, some have been injured in the past year and a few younger athletes are coming up. So we may not have a team as strong as we would like, but we have been working very hard and are ready to compete. We are very excited to be here."
Lytwyn said the Canadian team's main goal in Rotterdam is to finish among the top 24, and thereby advance to the 2011 Worlds in Tokyo. From Tokyo, the top eight teams will advance to the 2012 Olympics. An additional four teams will earn Olympic berths in early 2012.
"Our key focus as a team is to qualify for next year's world championships," said Lytwyn, who at age 19 is the second-youngest member of the Canadian men's team in Rotterdam. "Personally my focus is helping the team accomplish this by competing cleanly with as few errors as possible. My individual goal is to go through all of my routines cleanly and improve upon last year's results. I also hope to gain more experience in order to help me in future competitions."
By virtue of its 11th-place finish at the 2007 Worlds in Stuttgart, the Canadian men's team qualified for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where it finished ninth.
The Canadian starting roster in Rotterdam includes two Olympians – Nathan Gafuik and Ken Ikeda – plus Casey Sandy, Jackson Payne and Jayd Lukenchuk. Hugh Smith is the reserve gymnast.
Lytwyn, who competed at the 2009 Worlds in London that did not include a team competition, said a solid contribution to his team is his top priority in Rotterdam.
"For me, my team comes first," said Lytwyn, who trains under coach Carlo Pacella at the Burlington BGs club in Ontario. "I must perform my best for the team's sake. My personal goals will be met through this, by allowing me and our team to continue to compete and improve until we qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games."
In Rotterdam, Lytwyn said he anticipates that Canada can earn its top scores on high bar.
"I think Canada can make a good impression on high bar when we hit our routines," he told IG. "All of our high bar routines are reasonably high in difficulty, and it is for sure our best event."