Paul Hamm to return to gymnastics

Paul Hamm to return to gymnastics
February 7th, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: Paul Hamm to return to gymnastics

Paul Hamm to return to gymnastics

Associated Press

Olympic champion Paul Hamm has decided to return to competitive gymnastics, hoping for a less tumultuous path to the all-around title at the Beijing Olympics than the one he took in Athens.
Hamm and his twin brother, Morgan, met last weekend with USA Gymnastics officials to confirm they both had decided to return. They plan to participate in a limited number of events in 2007 while they finish school and get back into competitive shape.
Their decision was confirmed to the Associated Press on Tuesday by their father, Sandy, their agent, Sheryl Shade, and USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny. Neither gymnast was immediately available for comment.
"I think that it's a very positive thing," Penny said. "These guys know what it takes to win, and I'm confident that they would only be doing this if they felt like it was going to be positive for them and positive for USA Gymnastics."
Paul Hamm won the gold medal in the all-around in Athens in 2004. Soon after the event, the International Gymnastics Federation acknowledged a scoring error had been made on South Korean Yang Tae-young's second-to-last event, and he wound up with the bronze.
The Koreans protested. When FIG president Bruno Grandi suggested Hamm share the medal as acknowledgment of a mistake, Hamm was forced to defend his gold well after the Games were over, all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The episode soured Hamm on gymnastics for a while, and his relationship with USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee became strained. All parties have worked out their differences in time for the brothers to try to become three-time Olympians.
"We know that USA Gymnastics has been in discussions with the Hamms about their future training and competitive plans," USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel said. "If Paul and Morgan decide to return to competition, we would be delighted. They are two of the most-accomplished gymnasts in America."
The Hamm incident and other scoring problems in Athens brought about changes in the gymnastics scoring code. The Hamms, 24, sat out and analyzed the new system before making their decision.
"I see the code as what it is," Hamm said in an interview with AP in October. "If I decide to come back, I'll have to work with what's in front of me. Whether I consider it ideal or not, I'll have to go with it."
The men's team finished 13th at the most recent world championships, which put USA Gymnastics in a delicate situation. It was obvious they needed the Hamms to be competitive and have any chance of duplicating the team silver won in Athens. But they also had to come to a fair agreement on the level of funding they would provide for the brothers' training and the timetable.
They reached that agreement, and the Hamms will return, though they are not expected to participate at the September 2007 worlds. The team must finish in the top 12 to qualify for the Olympics. Another 13th-place finish and the United States would send only a few individuals to the Games, and the Hamms could be left at home.
Penny said he expects the team to finish in the top 12.
"We look at last year's world championships as a bad day in the office," Penny said. "I have all the confidence in the world that the men's program is committed to keeping the bar set high and going after it as hard as they can."

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