Hamm says he deserves all-around gold medal

He fails to add to total in floor, pommel horse

Athens Olympics

August 23, 2004|By Jerry Brewer | Jerry Brewer,ORLANDO SENTINEL

ATHENS - Paul Hamm did not medal in two individual events yesterday. It didn't matter that much, though. He still has his all-around gold medal.

And no one will take that victory from him.

Rejecting controversy, Hamm again proclaimed himself the all-around champion. The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) responded to a South Korean protest Saturday, reviewed the competition and suspended three judges after determining bronze medalist Yang Tae Young was robbed of a tenth of a point last week on the parallel bars. Yang may have lost a gold medal because of it.

Still, Hamm said, he won the event and likened the judges' mistakes to a bad call in football. He criticized the FIG for disregarding the rules and reviewing the event after the competition had ended.

"I truly believe, in my heart, it feels that I am the Olympic champion," Hamm said. "The people who I am a little bit upset with is the FIG, because those matters should've never even come up. This is a review that's not even allowed within the rules. This cannot be changed after the competition is over. And right now, I personally feel like I shouldn't even be dealing with this."

Hamm placed fifth in the floor exercise and sixth in the pommel horse yesterday, failing to add a medal. He said the stress of this controversy did not affect his performance.

The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that the U.S. Olympic Committee would support a South Korean bid to award a duplicate gold medal to Yang.

Hamm said he doesn't buy declarations that Yang would have won the all-around if not for the mistake. On mathematics alone, Yang did lose gold during that judge's error. Hamm said no one can be sure how the event would have concluded.

"We don't know," said Hamm, who became the first American man to win the all-around last week. "That's the point. And that's why, after you get done with the competition, you just can't go back and say, `We're going to change that.' That's why the rules are there."

In fact, the Hamm camp directed a charge at Yang. It said, upon review, Yang received no deduction for using four holds on the parallel bars.

The FIG has already said Hamm won't lose his gold medal.

The Orlando Sentinel and the Los Angeles Times are Tribune Publishing newspapers.

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