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Paul Hamm
Personal information
Full name: Paul Elbert Hamm
Country Represented:  United States
Date of birth: September 24, 1982 (1982-09-24) (age 27)
Place of birth: Washburn, Wisconsin
Hometown: Waukesha, Wisconsin
Height: 5 feet 6 inches (1.68 m)
Discipline: Men's artistic gymnastics
Level: Senior Elite
Club: Ohio State University
Head coach(es): Miles Avery
Arnold Kventenadze
Doug Stibel

Paul Elbert Hamm (born September 24, 1982 in Washburn, Wisconsin) is an American artistic gymnast. He is a World Champion gymnast and three-time Olympic medalist. He won the all-around competition at the 2004 Olympic Games.



Paul participated at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. He finished 5th with team and 14th in all-around. Despite the disappointment in Sydney, he had been making great improvement. In 2003, he eventually became the first American man to win the all-around title at the world championships.


2004 Summer Olympics

Paul Hamm competed at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, with his twin brother Morgan. He won the silver medal in the team event and was awarded gold in the individual all-around competition, becoming the only American man in Olympic history to win the gold medal in that event.

Hamm held a good position after three rounds, but a disastrous fall on the vault, in which he nearly fell into the judges' bench, dropped him to 12th place and he looked to be completely out of the running for a medal of any sort. Indeed, had a judge and the bench not been able to break Hamm's fall, he might have fallen from the podium and sustained injury. However, numerous faults by the other gymnasts, combined with Hamm's performance on the parallel bars, returned him to fourth place after the fifth rotation. His high bar routine gained him a score of 9.837, winning him the gold medal by a margin of .012, the closest in Olympic Gymnastics history. His scores on the six disciplines were:

Hamm also nearly won the Gold on the Horizontal bar at the 2004 Olympics but was awarded the silver after a tiebreaker.

Gold medal controversy

Almost immediately after the 2004 competition, Hamm's gold in the Men's all-around event was called into doubt due to a scoring issue.

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) ruled that South Korean bronze medalist Yang Tae Young was incorrectly given a start value of 9.9 instead of 10.0 in the parallel bars event during the all-around final. The 0.100 point omitted from Yang's start value in parallel bars, determined by the difficulty of the routine, was because the judges believed Yang had performed a move called a "morisue" instead of a "belle" during his routine. The difference in difficulty between those two moves—the 0.100 point—was the difference between third and first, and, therefore, between the bronze medal and the gold medal. The FIG suspended three judges but said the results would not be changed. The long-standing "Rules of Play" doctrine has prohibited sports officials from changing after a competition the decisions of officials during the competition.

The USOC also argued that changing scores after the fact was a violation of the rules of the competition (under which gymnastic scores must be disputed immediately—before the gymnasts move to the next piece of equipment, but certainly before the medals are awarded) and that second-guessing scores set a harmful precedent in that the judges at the event had to make the decisions and nothing would ever be finalized if second guessing and video review of entire competitions after they ended were permitted. Hamm supporters also pointed out that Yang's routine included 4 'hangs' instead of the 3 allowed, an error that, if caught, would have resulted in a penalty of .2 points, removing Yang from medal contention.

Others argued that this deduction had not been taken when other gymnasts had exceeded the required number and therefore ought not to apply in this case. Hamm supporters also contended that Hamm had earned the right to be the last gymnast to compete based on his performance in the initial night of the competition and knowing what he needed to earn a gold, silver, or bronze medal, he had adjusted his high bar routine accordingly. If Yang Tae Young had been awarded an additional 0.100 point, Hamm would have been able to adjust his routine to take account of that fact, and might have earned a higher score on the high bar, the final piece of equipment.

Hamm supporters contended that it would be like changing a two point basket before the first half of a basketball game into a three-point shot based on a video review after the game that showed the shooter was behind the three-point line, thereby deciding that the shooter's team would be awarded the win because the game was tied at the end of regulation. If the extra point had been awarded when it was scored, the opponent would have changed its end-game strategy to account for the opponent's additional score.

Eventually, Bruno Grandi, President of the FIG, stated that the FIG would not change the results of the all-around. However, the FIG sent a letter to Hamm in care of the United States Olympic Committee, stating:

If, (according to you [sic] declarations to the press), you would return your medal to the Korean if the FIG requested it, then such an action would be recognised as the ultimate demonstration of Fair-play by the whole world. The FIG and the IOC would highly appreciate the magnitude of this gesture.

In the letter, Grandi stated that Yang Tae Young was the "true winner" of the competition.

For the complete text, see this link.

The USOC was outraged by the FIG's request and refused to deliver the letter. In a response letter to the FIG, the USOC stated:

The USOC views this letter as a blatant and inappropriate attempt on the part of FIG to once again shift responsibility for its own mistakes and instead pressure Mr. Hamm into resolving what has become an embarrassing situation for the Federation. The USOC finds this request to be improper, outrageous and so far beyond the bounds of what is acceptable that it refuses to transmit the letter to Mr. Hamm.

In the letter, the USOC also noted that the International Olympic Committee ("IOC") and its president, Jacques Rogge, opposed FIG's efforts to pressure Hamm in this manner, in direct contradiction to an implication made in the FIG's letter.

For the complete text of the USOC's response, see this link.

Yang then filed an official appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), seeking to have his score changed and be awarded the gold medal. On September 27, 2004, Hamm and the USOC appeared before the court in Lausanne, Switzerland during a hearing that lasted eleven and one-half hours. Nearly one month later, on October 21, 2004, a three-judge CAS panel announced that the results from the Olympics would remain and that Paul Hamm would get to keep the gold medal. The verdict was final and could not be appealed. (See this link for the complete text of the decision.)

When asked whether or not he still deserved the gold medal by a news reporter, Hamm replied that he "shouldn't even be dealing with this." He later went on to say, "I do understand and feel the disappointment that Yang Tae Young has been subjected to, and I hope he understands what I have been through as well."

Effects of controversy

Immediately following the Olympics, General Mills announced which U.S. Olympians would appear on individual boxes of Wheaties cereal: swimmer Michael Phelps, gymnast Carly Patterson, and sprinter Justin Gatlin. Hamm was in talks to appear on a box, but the talks were dropped after the controversy.

Sullivan Award

Hamm was the James E. Sullivan Award winner for 2004 as the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States.

Comeback attempt for 2008 Olympics

Paul and Morgan Hamm took some time off after the 2004 Olympics to focus on school at The Ohio State University. They announced in February 2007 that they would return to competitive gymnastics[1], starting at the 2007 U.S. Championships, also known as the Visa Championships, after their title sponsor. In March 2008, Paul won the American Cup held in New York City. This was the first time he won this competition and performed with a strong showing.

On May 22 Paul competed on the first day of the 2008 U.S. Championships, but was forced to withdraw after day one after injuring his hand. During his routine on the parallel bars he fractured the fourth metacarpal of his right hand. Orthopedic surgery five days later placed a titanium plate and nine screws in his hand and Paul was not cleared to return to gymnastics until July 3. After sitting out the Olympic Trials, he was named to the 2008 Olympic Team on a provisional basis depending on his recovery. On July 19 he secured his spot on the 2008 team by participating in an intersquad meet and performed in all six events, only slightly modifying his routines to prevent aggravation of his injury.

On July 28 Paul announced his withdrawal from the United States Olympic gymnastics team due to persistent pain in his right hand and a new injury to his left shoulder from his accelerated recovery efforts. He was replaced on the team by Raj Bhavsar. He has indicated that he will permanently retire from the sport.[2]

Competitive history

2008 season

Year Competition Description Location Apparatus Rank-Final Score-Final Rank-Qualifying Score-Qualifying
2008 Winter Cup Challenge Las Vegas All Around 1
Floor Exercise 1
Parallel bars 1
Pommel Horse 2
Horizontal Bar 2
American Cup New York All Around 1
Pacific Rim Championships San Jose Team 1
All Around 1
Pommel horse 1
Parallel bars 1 (tie)
Floor Exercise 2
Horizontal Bar 3
Still Rings 5

2007 season

Year Competition Description Location Apparatus Rank-Final Score-Final Rank-Qualifying Score-Qualifying
2007 U.S. Championships San Jose Floor Exercise 1
Pommel horse 4

2004 season

Year Competition Description Location Apparatus Rank-Final Score-Final Rank-Qualifying Score-Qualifying
2004 Olympic Games Athens All Around 1 57.823 1 58.061
Floor Exercise 5 9.712
Horizontal Bar 2 9.812
Parallel Bars 7 9.737
Pommel Horse 6 9.737
Team 2 172.933 2 230.419
World Cup/Series Lyon Horizontal Bar 4 9.400 3 9.587
Parallel Bars 7 7 9.550
U.S. Championships Nashville All Around 1
Floor Exercise 1
Horizontal Bar 1
Pommel horse 2
Parallel bar 2 (tie)
Pacific Alliance Championships Honolulu Team 1
All Around 1
Vault 1
Horizontal Bar 1
Floor Exericse 2
Pommel Horse 3 (tie)
Parallel bar 3
American Cup New York Still Rings 2
All Around 3
Vault 3 (tie)
Parallel bars 3

2003 season

Year Competition Description Location Apparatus Rank-Final Score-Final Rank-Qualifying Score-Qualifying
2003 World Championships Anaheim All Around 1 57.774 2 56.848
Floor Exercise 1 9.762
Team 2 171.121 1 227.743
U.S. Championships Milwaukee All Around 1
Pommel horse 1
Horizontal bar 1
Floor Exercise 2
Parallel bar 2

2002 season

Year Competition Description Location Apparatus Rank-Final Score-Final Rank-Qualifying Score-Qualifying
2002 World Championships Debrecen Floor Exercise 3 9.625 4 9.612
Horizontal Bar 7 8.887 3 9.625
Pommel Horse 8 9.050 7 9.587
U.S. Championships Cleveland All Around 1
Pomel horse 1
Vault 1
Floor Exercise 2
Parallel bar 3
Still Rings 6 (tie)
Pacific Alliance Championships Vancouver Team 1
All Around 1
Vault 1
Horizontal Bar 1 (tie)
Floor Exericse 3
American Cup Orlando All Around 2

2001 season

Year Competition Description Location Apparatus Rank-Final Score-Final Rank-Qualifying Score-Qualifying
2001 World Championships Ghent All Around 7 55.335 4 55.561

2000 season

Year Competition Description Location Apparatus Rank-Final Score-Final Rank-Qualifying Score-Qualifying
2000 Olympic Games Sydney All Around 14 57.049 6 57.436
Floor Exercise 16 9.475
Team 5 228.983 4 229.208
Vault 9 9.700


Hamm also competed on the popular Japanese television show, Sasuke (in America/UK: Ninja Warrior). He and his brother Morgan took part in three tournaments (#14, 15, and 16). Paul made it to the second stage of the 14th competition but missed completing it by inches (he cleared the last obstacle, the "Wall Lifting", but forgot to hit the red button before time ran out). In the 15th, he was unable to pass the First Stage obstacle, the "Warped Wall". In the 16th he made it to the second stage again but failed on the obstacle known as the "Metal Spin".


External links


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