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7 medals for U.S. men

by Sophie Schmidt, associate Sports editor

On April 15, gymnastics qualification for the 2004 summer Olympics started at the UHM Stan Sheriff Center. Nine Pacific Rim countries competed, among them the United States of America, Australia, China, and Japan. The event was organized by the Pacific Alliance of National Gymnastics, formed in 1981, for those countries contiguous to the Pacific Ocean.

The U.S.’s Paul Hamm was a big favorite as was Chen, Yung Chang from Taipei.

The Olympic order for the men’s competion is starts with the floor exercise, then the pommel horse, the still rings, the vault, the parallel bars, and finally, the horizontal or high bar. The athletes perform six rotations.

The U.S. team started at the still rings and Hamm scored 9.216 out of 10, the lowest among all his performances. Nakamura Shuhei from Japan got the highest score of 9.700 that day.

The U.S. team continued with the vault with Hamm performing a high score of 9.783. He was the last to perform, after Steve McCain who injured his knee, Jason Gatson and Paul’s twin brother, Morgan Hamm, who got the second highest score, 9.633.

In parallel bars, Paul Hamm was third with 9.500, topped by Lu Bo from China second, and Li Rongjie from China who was first with a score of 9.700.

In high bar, Paul Hamm tied Nakamura Shuhei from Japan with a top score of 9.650.
In floor exercises, the twins took first and second place. Morgan scored the best with a 9.600 and Paul followed with a 9.566.

Overall, Paul Hamm was ranked first that day with a total score of 57.265 followed by Bo from Japan with 55.482. Paul Hamm said on the USA Gymnastics Web site: “This competition shows us exactly where we’re at going into the Olympic Games. We hit all but one routine today. We’ll get a little more practice at the USA Gymnastics Championships and the U.S. Olympic Trials. We’ll be ready for the Games”.

At the final competition, on April 17, the American twins Paul and Morgan Hamm were ranked first and second respectively in floor exercise, Morgan was ranked third in the Pommel horse, Paul first in vault and high bar. In summary, the United States of America was first three times and they were also the best overall team and won the championship. Second was Malaysia and third was Japan. The best athlete in the still rings was Bo from China who was also ranked first in parallel bars; Hsiang Wei Lin from Taipei was the best athlete in pommel horse. The U.S team brought home seven medals with Jason Gaston adding silver in the still rings.

Paul Hamm has been in the senior division for five years and made history by winning the first World All-Around title in 2003. Paul said: “I was really happy with my performance today. I felt I was a lot better today than Thursday. I fixed a few mistakes, like nailing my second vault, so I’m happy. I feel like I’m in good shape right now. I feel like I’m in a good position to make the Olympic Team. This whole trip was a good experience. I feel like I’m really on top of things right now.”


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