Raj Bhavsar got Screwed

See that guy? The one doing the perfect iron cross on the rings? Yeah, he got screwed – again. When USA Gymnastics announced the team, Paul Hamm, Jonathan Horton, Kevin Tan, Morgan Hamm, Joe Hagerty and Justin Spring, Bhavsar was left off-again. He had a fantastic trials, just like he did in 2004, but was named an alternate, just like he was in 2004. Bhavsar took the high road when asked about the snub. “No extrinsic reward would take away what I accomplished.” I’ve heard that being classy is the best way to get back at your detractors – I would know nothing about that, preferring to magazine people – but doing it with an SAT word really gets them. There is a glimmer of hope for Raj. Injuries have plagued USA gymnasts, so he still might make it. Go Raj!


41 Responses to “Raj Bhavsar got Screwed”

  1. 1 destiny June 23, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    I totally agree…Raj Bhavsar is one of the most consistent gymnast and he would have helped US team in Vault, p-bars and rings. But no…the U.S Olympic committee choose Justin Spring. No offense to him but from looking at the results from both Visa Championships and Olympic trials, Bhavsar comes ontop.

  2. 2 teamstrannon June 23, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Raj got screwed! My husband and I watched his gymnastics this year and his high placings in meets plus his third place showing at the Trials and all of that should have secured him an official spot on the team. I have lost respect for the selection committee. Thanks to other injured athletes on the team Raj might get his chance to shine! Check out our post about it too: http://teamstrannon.wordpress.com/2008/06/22/us-olympic-mens-gymnastic-team-chosen/

  3. 3 brooke June 23, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    I really think Raj should’ve gotten picked for the team. Throughout the whole trials they kept saying how he was pretty much guaranteed a spot on the team as long as he placed in the top two all around (which i think he placed 2nd) and in the top three in three individual competitions, which I think he did. Tell me if I am mistaken. I just think after what happened in 2004, he did amazing this time around. A lot better then some of the guys who got chosen over him, Justin Spring for example. I would hate to not have Paul Hamm in the running, but maybe his wrist problems will be Raj’s opportunity. Or maybe Joe Haggery’s shoulder will give him some problems. I don’t want any other guy to get hurt, but I definitely think the selection committee made a HUGE mistake putting him as the alternate again.

  4. 4 brooke June 23, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    I’m sorry, he finished third, my mistake. But it was only by like a couple tenths…lame.

  5. 5 Lynn June 24, 2008 at 12:20 am

    The selection committee should be ashamed of themselves. He has earned a spot not once, but twice. And who are they sending??? Morgan Hamm. Seems that the Hamms are conjoined twins, and they cannot send one without the other. Pitiful. If I were Raj, I would be going postal right about now. He was robbed TWICE!!! Yoga can only do so much. He has a right to be seriously upset. I really hope he gets a chance to shine at the Olympics in Beijing. Go Raj!

  6. 6 Gymanst Guy June 24, 2008 at 2:01 am

    I feel bad for Raj, but what about David Sender. This guy beat EVERYONE in the first olympic trials in the all-around, and then suffered a minor ankle sprain the day before the competition. I feel awful for him, and the fact that he got completely blown off because of this. And for what, for the team to put Morgan Hamm on??? The committee should be ashamed of themselves.. Hamm is only on because of the publicity and media attention. I feel bad for both Sender and Raj

  7. 7 Chitown Chick June 24, 2008 at 2:44 am

    The Morgan Hamm thing really puzzled me. The guy did nothing to distinguish himself, except have the luck of sharing a womb with Paul.

  8. 8 GymDAD June 24, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    I have alot of say about this subject. Not all of bad. First of all USA Gymnastics (MEN) was hammered after the last olympic trials for holding a team camp for the men and making final selections there – so, this year they said they would name the team at end of trials and make it procedure etc… This set up a bad situation when Paul got hurt. (If they had not make that ruling – the same 9 guys would still be in the hunt and it would be determined at a camp and we would know if Paul and Morgan or anyone else would be too injured to go. Instead they named a team…I cannot argue that they had to put Paul Ham on the team – yet, (As I have reviewed the team closely – all assumptions is that Paul will compete as an AA and play a crucial role in every event. Paul may be ready for the Olympics but not ready for every event – what do they do then??? We do not have any back up on Pommel and Vault and Floor. What if Paul can only do 4 events but really well – then do they bump someone else off the team just to get another All arounder?? It is truly a mess. It is true that Paul and Morgan are cojoined as someone put it and yes Morgan hurt his ankle (again…!!) on the first day in Philly but while Paul has proved he can be the gymnast of old, Morgan has yet to do that – I don’t see him regaining his form of 2004. I think Raj and Durante should both stay in top shape for the Team Camp in late July – I think they could both still be players. Sasha needs to just concentrate on 2012..no matter how he looks he is just too inconsistent to hold a spot.

    I was in Philly the whole trials and Hagerty is a great gymnast and so consistent, Spring deserves his placement and he was a long shot and not part of the USA Gym tight circle – so, I don’t see corruption – I just see too much focus on past performances international reputations. Remember Michelle Kwan made the 2006 Oly Skating team because she already had all the endorsement deals and made for good TV and name recognition and she went to the games but left abruptly before competing. Don’t be surprised to see something similar happen to one or more of the guys on the Team.

    Also, just FYI… one of the selection members was Stacy Maloney – who coached the Hams as kids and took them to their first olympics (rumor has it he and the Hams are not on the best terms now – but many think they have made up) But when selecting the committee – as each member was nominated to serve they were all approved 100% until Maloney was nominated – it was highly contested and he only marginally won the right to serve on the committee – many were deeply opposed to that position. Anyway, what effect did he have on the selections?

    Finally, I have to be honest – Raj is awesome and this blog is mostly about him, but he is very weak on HBar and only average on Floor and pommel – he is great on rings, good on vault and good on P-Bars and Raj competes with passion but less than stellar form – (pointed toes – legs together) – Internationally that will get you dinged more than in the US – BUT I still think he deserved that spot on the team over Morgan and I feel Durante did also – but it is not over yet – let it all play out!

  9. 9 Chitown Chick June 24, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Thanks for the insight. Just to correct you – the whole blog is about the Olympics – that post was about Raj. I like Raj and all, but not really enough to write a whole blog about him. 🙂

  10. 10 Suzannah June 24, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    Raj is the ultimate in good sportsmanship. For him to have the trials that he had and perform as well as he did… and btw I disagree about him not being good on high bar, um, he kicks serious butt and his floor routine is phenomenal… do you see anyone else do the pure strength moves that Raj does?? I think not. But back to my point, the guy is truly what an olympic athlete should be. For him NOT to go postal and give the response that he did to the NBC reporter interviewing him… Damn, I wish we all had that kind of inner strength and composure, can you imagine what a world this would be?? Raj, you are the man!! I hope you get the chance to shine in Bejing!!!!

  11. 11 GymDAD June 24, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    Hey – Raj is only weak on Hi-Bar because his start value is low – he executed great and got only minor deductions at trials but you can’t get a good score if your start value is low. So that is why I listed his H Bar as weak. Also, while I wrote this huge post I did not mention that I am really happy for Horton – he is awesome and has really grown into a man. I am honestly sick of paul hamm telling everyone in every interview that he has won all events he has entered since he came back – dude – have you ever heard about being humble. He fails to mention that USA gymnastics approached him and asked him to go the the Worlds last year but really needed to compete three events instead of just two – he said no, it would be two or nothing but still expected to go – USA Gym said they could not do it. He also made rude public statements when Morgan was not placed on the USA National team after their first event back. He actually said that Morgan should be on the team because of his past experience. That is significant because it all leads to MONEY – if he is on the team he gets money from USA Gymnastics – So, I am sorry to say, I am not a huge fan of the Hamms. I really do think it is all about money and cashing in for them. Wheather they compete in China or not, just being named to the team will get them tons of air time and money and such. So, they will stretch it out to the end.

  12. 12 CJ in chicago June 24, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    I WAS THERE!!! At the foot of the pommel horse. Raj was totally screwed, as was Sasha and Durante.

    Obviously, there are a lot of politics involved in selection. I am sure that China is really applauding the US selection. Why are the men athletes not selected in the same careful way as the women?
    Marta wants to win…with well and healthy gymnasts. There is no we hope to be ready. Just like any other competition, you are either in it to win it and ready to go, or you sit on the side lines. PROVE YOURSELF.

    The 3 alternates have not taken time off to “rest”. They want to win. At a time, the Hamm boys were good. After watching this season, not so much and really, Kevin Tan? A nice performance and sure a nice guy, but when your 3 alternates can do all around well,not just rings, well…Even with a fall Sasha outscored on the pommel.
    Raj has the best attitude, gratitude and appreciation for the sport, his family and his supporters. THIS IS WHAT MAKES HIM A WINNER. Raj-man- YOU WILL MAKE IT!!! Keep your head up and keep working. YOU WILL DO IT.

  13. 13 CJ in chicago June 24, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    GymDad- I agree about the Hamms- Where was Paul during the Trials? Sitting up in the stands, not in any Team gear, just waiting for his time to be called down to accept his spot on team.

    David Sender, a sure thing, (right) happy to be on the floor being part of a TEAM. Not just the team of a brother. Isn’t that what the Olympics are about? Team spirit? Not I’m too cool to sit on the floor.

    Seriously, Do we really need 2 Hams and a Tan? Is the USOC looking for good PR? Because nothing beats the story of the comeback kid, the for soviet champion and his son and the hometown boy.

    We need a petition.

  14. 14 GymDad June 25, 2008 at 2:59 am

    CJ in Chicago – hmmm…great point. I actually remember Paul telling the crowd at FanFest that he would be on the floor carrying his brothers gym bag and helping to coach him and doing whatever he needs — yet, he was in the stands both nights. (What was that all about) Don’t get me wrong if Paul is 99% and ready to roll come Bejing time, I will be glad and it was a good move to pick him, but just because you pick Paul does not mean you have to pick his band-aid brother. I honestly think there will be a shuffle on the team before Bejing or even after the plane lands. I think things will work itself out somewhat. I still think the 9 top guys are still in the hunt, except for Golden.

  15. 15 READ THIS I KNOW WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT June 25, 2008 at 7:13 am

    ok i have allot to say about this but first i need to get a few things out of the way. “CJ in chicago” ok Marta has nothing to do the guys gymnastics and has no influence in the decision making of the guys team, guys gymnastics is a completely different thing than girls gymnastics, and Sasha is a very good gymnasts but he did not get screwed he deserves to be where he is he needs to get his stuff together and stop messing up because he can be the best gymnast in the world but he is cracking up, he still has time to go, unlike Raj. and “Brooke” how dare you say that Justin spring should not be on the team he is f ing awesome and would have won the first night if he would have competed pommels he would have only needed to get like a 13 to win. ok and “Gymdad” you actually know what you are talking about and i liked your blog allot. ok i went to the trials in philli and i think that raj totally got screwed his performance from the Visa cup improved dramatically. i thought that he scored lower than he should have in the visa cup i was angry about that. i am not a fan of the Hamms but like it or not Paul is still the best guy we have. and i agree with “Chinatown Chick” Morgan should not go his time is over and he took a spot on the team which took raj out of the running. it was a slap in the face to raj to put him as an alternate two times in a row when he should have been a for sure both times, when they took people that should not have gone like Jason Gattson, (his rings were horrible) and Blane Willson. ok Blane is my all time favorite gymnast but he had a bad 04 Athens. this year Morgan should not have gone. i can see why they took Tan, he has a good chance at getting a mettle. and they made a good dissension on making David an alternate i like him allot and he is very good on everything but not amazing on everything. ok i was going to put all of the scores from all the meets and prove to you that Raj was a for sure and that the hamms are total d bags but it is late and gymdad did a good job of explaining everything so GO Raj and i hope the best for you and am very angry that they did not pick you because you deserve it.

  16. 16 Chitown Chick June 25, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Chitown Chick – not Chinatown. I’m from Chicago, so…

    Guys, continue to comment. I love the conversation, but swearing is not ok here. Good grammar and punctuation will be rewarded with cookies.

  17. 17 GymDAD June 25, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Thanks for the nice comment about my comment, but I just call it as I see it. Has anyone seen the Hamm’s Website “Making the Olympics” – if not, google it up and take a look. I have reviewed and some of it is good and some makes me gag. You can judge for yourself and take your on prospective of the Hamms. Much has been said about the 9 guys still on the team or bubble but what about some of the other gymnasts. I still think somehow Golden should have been on the team or serve as an alternate. His floor and Vault are world class and his Rings are very consistent and I thought underscored. NBC took alot of support away from Sean after they did not show him at all on TV. Even after he stuck his vault landing and got nearly a standing ovation for his floor routine. I totally had him in my mix to the end. I also had to think alot about Alvarez. The consistentcy of this guy is amazing…low start values yes, but you can depend on him to hit or come close and he was a world finalist on Floor last year – actually 4th in the world. I think Tan will come through at the Olympics on more than his signature event (rings) He was very consistent at worlds last year and did his job..yet I am going into that past performance judging mode. I want to ask a question – Does anyone know if Band-Aid Morgan is going to try to come back on P-Bars or Rings? OR Is he going to remain just a 4 event man?

  18. 18 CJ in chicago June 25, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Rumor at the trials was he was trying to maintain the 4 events. Heaven only knows if he is even capable of those.

    As for team selection, Mr. I know all- I realize the difference and understand how torn up a males body gets after this type of competition, however, even the professinals that I spoke with at the trials said they thought that the selection committee would simply pick a training team and make a final decision by July 1, the deadline, because it was such a tough choice. I feel that this would have been a much better decision. Not only would it not have killed the spirits of these young men, but it would make them more determined to get better, work harder and make the final cut.

    And, as for Justin Springs,he was AMAZING at the trials. This kid was right on. His excitement was great, not to mention how he couldn’t believe his dream had come true. At the end party for the athletes, he was stoked, but still in a bit of shock. Nice guy.

  19. 19 sam June 26, 2008 at 5:01 am

    Sure Raj got screwed. So did Sender, Artemev, Durante, Golden, McNeill and probably a few others who “deserve” to be on the team. People aren’t put on Olympic teams because they deserve to be. They’re put on Olympic teams because they can play the biggest roles in helping their country bring home medals.

    There’s been a lot of outrage about Raj’s omission from people who watched trials over the weekend (fueled by NBC’s “poor Raj” sad songs), but people who follow men’s gymnastics during the four years BETWEEN Olympics understand exactly why these six guys were put on the team and Raj wasn’t. I am no great fan of USA Gymnastics or its selection process, but I gotta say, for once they got it right. The time to get REALLY pissed that Raj wasn’t on the team was in 2004, when he definitely should have been there instead of Guard Young. THAT could have been the difference between USA winning team silver and winning team gold, because that’s when we needed Raj’s awesome skills on still rings.

    But this year, it’s a different story. There are three reasons why Raj did not make this team:
    1. For preliminaries, we need five of our six guys to compete on all six events. So the committee has to make sure we can do that and earn the best possible scores with the best combination of six guys. Raj, given his specialties and strengths, would have skewed that balance, giving us more strength than we needed on some events and less strength than we needed in others.
    2. Kevin Tan is so insanely talented on rings that you can’t leave him at home. Raj himself would probably tell you that. It’s like leaving Barry Bonds or Hank Aaron out of a batting competition because they can’t run, throw or catch. He and Paul Hamm are really non-negotiable because they give us such an amazing scoring advantage. You could possibly make the same case about Jonathan Horton and his six-event versatility — really not much weakness anywhere.
    3. The whole team is relatively weak on pommel horse, and adding Raj doesn’t strengthen it — it’s one of his so-so events; he tends to score in the 14.0 range on it (not Olympic caliber, even if it’s among the best at U.S. qualifying events).

    Raj’s specialties are virtually the same as Tan’s and Spring’s. Adding Raj is like loading your team with two catchers and a pitcher when you need a catcher, a pitcher and a fielder.

    You can make the case to put Raj on the team instead of Justin Spring, but then you’re weakening your high bar lineup without really adding a significant counter-strength anywhere. It’s really a shame that Raj didn’t concentrate on perfecting his pommel horse skills leading up to qualifiers, because anybody who could have broken 15.0 there on a consistent basis could have written their own ticket on to the team. That’s where Artemev’s great failure was. Pommel is his specialty — he just kept choking in qualifiers and fell off the horse three out of four times.

    It’s sad about Raj. He’s one of my favorite gymnasts ever. But the committee’s decision makes sense. Raj wasn’t left out because he doesn’t deserve to be on the team or for any of the other crazy reasons you’re hearing about. He was left off because there’s a combination with the best chance of medalling that he doesn’t fit into. It really is that simple. It breaks my heart, but that’s the sad truth.

  20. 20 sam June 26, 2008 at 5:39 am

    I just noticed that there’s a lot of questioning the decision to put Morgan Hamm on the team, so I’ll add my 2 cents on that too …

    Morgan Hamm is on the team for two reasons, neither of which is Paul Hamm:
    1. Kevin Tan
    2. Pommel Horse

    Morgan’s strengths are the exact opposite of Kevin Tan’s, with some intersection at pommel horse. In a 6/5/5 format like there will be a preliminaries, Kevin Tan + Morgan Hamm = 1 complete gymnast who is better than Raj Bhavsar. In combined qualifiers, an injured Morgan beat a healthy Raj on floor (15.0 v. 14.665), on high bar (15.23 v. 14.03) and on pommel horse (14.47 v. 14.14; Kevin Tan: 13.98); healthy Raj barely beats an injured Morgan on vault (16.005 v. 15.945). Kevin Tan doesn’t (and won’t) compete on floor, vault or high bar. Morgan doesn’t (and won’t) compete on pbars or rings; Tan will. Tan compared to Raj on those events in combined qualifiers, with Tan’s score first: PBars: 15.08 v. 15.44; Rings: 16.6 v. 15.58. Yes, Raj wins on Pbars and squeaks ahead on vault, but it doesn’t bring enough to the table to justify losing either of these guys in this competition format. And if Morgan is healthy as he is expected to be, his scores will be even better than those we’re seeing now on all 4 of his events.

    I ADORE Raj, but the simple fact is that Kevin Tan + Morgan Hamm (even injured) = 1 gymnast that’s better than Raj alone, and that’s crucial to prelimaries, which are crucial to finals, which has a different format (6-3-3) (In other words, five of six team members have to compete on all six events in preliminaries and all five scores count, whereas in finals we put our best three guys on each event and all three scores count).

    Look at the preliminary line-up and decide the ONE GUY you take off so that you can add Raj, and consider what the consequences are:

    Rings: Tan, P. Hamm, J. Horton, J. Hagerty, J. Spring
    PBars: Tan, P. Hamm, J. Horton, J. Hagerty, J. Spring
    Pommels: P. Hamm, J. Horton, M. Hamm, J. Hagerty, K. Tan
    High Bar: P. Hamm, J. Horton, M. Hamm, J. Spring, J. Hagerty
    Floor: P. Hamm, J. Horton, M. Hamm, J. Hagerty, J. Spring
    Vault: P. Hamm, J. Spring, M. Hamm, J. Horton, J. Spring

    Again, if you’re gonna switch anybody for Raj, it has to be Spring, but whatever gain it brings to pommels or vault costs us at least as much at high bar and pbars (Spring beats Raj on pbars in qualifiers 15.55 v. 15.44). When you take the emotion out of it and look at it in a cold, calculating, numbers-based frame of mind, it’s good strategy.

    But for the record, I agree with the folks saying that a little humility from Paul Hamm would be warmly welcomed!

  21. 21 Aaron June 26, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    I totally agree that Olympic committee screwed Raj Bhavsar. I saw his performance, he deserved to be in the team and not as an alternate.

  22. 22 GymDAD June 26, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    I like the new responses from a different point of view. I can’t disagree with logic and the crunching of numbers – I just hope behind the scenes that the USA Group has made it bluntly clear that actually any 6 of the 9 guys named to the team/alternate might really, really, really end up in Beijing. I think the guys probably most disappointed is Durante – if he had hit his pommel the first night like he did the second – he would have been on the team. Plus he is probably the best liked by like everyone – I do think that Morgan could contribute greatly, but I have more faith that Paul will truly be ready than Morgan. I think Morgan is a poster boy for continuous injuries…and if you look at his career he has always been that way. I firmly that believe (even with Morgan’s resume) if Paul was not in the picture – Morgan would have only ended up as an alternate at this point. Someone mentioned that Tan does not do h-bar but he does and can do it rather well and has even placed nationally and internationally. Tan competed on three events at Worlds last year in the 3 up 3 count situation and did well on all three events (Pommel, Rings of course and P-Bars) He competed on High bar during the 5/4 round. So, Tan might end up a bigger player at the Olympics than you expect and I actually have more confidence in him than Morgan. I wonder how much information we will really hear about the training camp? In the era of U-Tube – I hope much of it will be taped.

  23. 23 GymDAD June 26, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Here are the rumors and some commentary from a poster on wwgym:

    Here are my thoughts on each of the above (after spending Saturday night very near Paul and Sunday night in very close proximity with the entire men’s team): Supposedly these rumors have been posted on multiple sites and also spread by folks who seem to be in the know – some of them conflict each other though.

    1. Paul played the “Take Morgan or plan to lose without me” card.

    2. Paul Hamm is not really injured as badly as they made it sound — he just didn’t want to bother competing at Trials after having proved his readiness 3 previous times this year (Winter Cup, Scam, Pac Rim)

    -He could have possible done floor and vault at trials, nothing else. Who knows truly about the surgery, actually it was reported by some with Medical backgrounds that in no way shape or form does Paul’s hand look like that of someone with such an injury, but that with even a slighter injury the Hamm group did not want him to risk anything else.

    3. Completely opposite… Paul Hamm is injured so badly he can’t come back in time (on PH especially). However, he was named to the team to keep the most famous gymnast on TV, to drum up Olympic interest, and to make Bhavsar especially a tragic story that can be turned into an amazing human interest phenomenon when he replaces Paul. This was also set-up in advance — per all the special air time and story about Raj on TV and to get everyone sucked into this situation. Also noted is the Raj and the Hamms are great friends and Paul was very upset that Raj did not make the 2004 team and set this whole thing up so Raj alone could be his replacement.

    4. One of the guys will become “injured” later on to make room for either Artemev, Bhavsar or Durante… (This was repeated with the same wording and no clarification offered.) The idea to have more human interest stories etc.. and the fate of the replacement and to help all 9 guys get some endorsements etc..

    5. Sean Golden took not making the training squad REALLY REALLY hard.

    6. Tim McNeill was really proud of his teammates who made it, even though he did not.

    7. Hagerty really hurt his shoulder and might be out.

    8. Morgan took the airflare out on night 2 only because he didn’t want it shown on TV again until the olympics.

    9. Paul told the committe, either I am ready and compete on all 6 or none at all. If I cannot do all 6 have a guy ready because I only want to defend my AA and I do not want to take the place of someone else that close to making the team. And don’t ask me to do 4 or 5 events because I won’t so, it will be all or nothing. In response the committee selected 3 alternates instead of 2 to make sure everyone that could be going is training hard.

    10. Rumor has it that at this point the committe is off the mat. In other words that the Olympic Coach Kevin Mazieka will make the choice of who is ready and who will go and who will not and it will be his choice alone and he made that clear before he took the post. He was also not on the committee that selected the team and had no say so up front. He is also the personal coach of Raj which looks good for him. He would seem to also favor a Durante type guy of consistency and leadership than Sasha. He is also not a top Hamm fan.

    PS>>> I find some of this amusing, but if nothing else – it seems the Hamms are thought to be a little slimey by more people than I thought. Anyway, enjoy these rumors as I have found them on another sight and weigh in on the strength of any of them.

  24. 24 sam June 27, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Gymdad wrote: <>

    Amen to that, gymdad! Men’s gymnastics is just a petri dish for injuries. With 4 guys nursing or recovering from boo-boos of some sort (that I know of — Paul, Morgan, Joey, Justin), and with such an embarrassment of riches when it comes to talent in the whole USA field, there’s no sense in using somebody who’s not prepared to hit their routines just because his name was called out last weekend.

    Interesting rumor about Mazieka having power to make the choice of who is ready and who will go and who will not, that it will be his choice alone. There’s actually something to be said for giving him the power to override the committee, if you ask me.

    I think the lines get blurry between the individual and team aspects of this sport to the casual spectator (thus a lot of the “Raj deserves” arguments instead of strategic assessments). JMO, but I think there’s a lot to be said for letting a coach pick the players on his team, like a baseball team (of course, with input from management, also like a baseball team!)

  25. 25 sam June 27, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    The Gymdad quote that I formatted into oblivion in my response above, and the quote that my entire response above is based on, was …

    “I just hope behind the scenes that the USA Group has made it bluntly clear that actually any 6 of the 9 guys named to the team/alternate might really, really, really end up in Beijing.”

    Sorry for the goof!

  26. 26 sam June 27, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Question for Gymdad …

    You seem really knowledgeable about this, so I have a question about something you said …

    What would be the logic of putting Morgan Hamm in as an alternate? Shouldn’t alternates be all-arounders so you can plug them in wherever you need them? Just wondering.

    I’m including a link up that you might enjoy if you haven’t already seen it — Todd Thorton’s assessment of the team:


  27. 27 GymDad June 28, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    I totally agree that the alternate positions should go to AA – but I might have kept him as an alternate in this strange situation we are in, just to keep him in the mix and see how well he continues to come back from injuries and keep him training. I don’t feel like I can count on him now and of course cant count on Paul NOW – so, I just would not feel good about having two of my six men in question.

    Some more rumors that have been sent to me – I am not making these up folks – but folks are now sending them to me as additional – why don’t they post them themselves??
    Anyway –

    1) Raj was left off the team because of his antics after not making the team in 2004 and he basically burned way too many bridges and USA Gymnastics wants to have nothing to do with him.

    2) They were only going to name two alternates but could not face the public of naming Durante over RAJ and just named RAj as a token move.

    3) Morgan is done with gymnastics and is really not into this comeback thing and is only doing it to satisfy brother and was secretly hoping he could slide off the team.

    4) It has been confirmed that Sasha has said some bold statements about not making the team and even said he my be through and does not want to go to China unless he is firmly on the team. Also that he and his camp have thrown some hissy fits behind the scenes and have been rude to the guys that did make the team.

    5) Durante took the news well publicly but his family was distraught. He has also spoken to each member of the team and offered his support and help and was the first nonpicked guy to bear hug each of the 6. He is also increasing his practice time to get better if he is called upon and plans to go Beijing and wants to somehow devise a way that he can still lead the team even if he does not compete.

    6) Rumor has it that Spring was asked to play around with the pommel horse and be ready just in case something crazy happens (…like Blaine Wilson leaving his duties to Guard Young at the last second).

    7) Rumor has it that Tan was not feeling well at the trials and was getting through some of his events but did not want the media or anyone to know about it and just dealt with it privately.

    8) Rumor has it that Spring did not any run throughs at all on his floor routine until the first night of competition and was worried he would forget the routine and plans to beef it up with nicer transistions in Beijing.

    9) Rumor has it that the Hamms signed a huge deal with NBC before Paul got hurt and thus, both USA gymnastics and the Hamms have to be on the team.

    10) It is rumored that NBC was told not to film Sean Golden on floor and vault so folks would not question why he was not on the floor. The committee told NBC who was in the hunt and those were the guys they filmed.

    Finally someone sent me the rumor that USA gymnastics and Marta are not happy with the party lifestyle and less than G rated activities of a few of the women who may be on the team and some tv viewers called and complained about audible cursing on TV by Sacramone and Peseak.

    Add any rumors that you have heard, don’t send them to me, just put them on here yourself.

  28. 28 sam June 28, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Thanks for your input, Gymdad.

    As for the rumors, they’re just ridiculous in addition to being plain old vicious — I don’t think they’re worth repeating, much less paying attention to, except for maybe that Durante’s family is (understandably) upset.

    If you’ve ever dealt with network television, you know that — gymnastics rumors aside — the notion that NBC takes its orders from anybody is funny enough to make you gag (the rumor mill sure is vague about who exactly is giving the orders — ha ha!).

    Anybody wanna buy some swampland in Florida?

  29. 29 Mark Vincent June 30, 2008 at 12:02 am

    Raj should be on the team along with Sasha and Durante. Morgan should be off the team. I believe that Raj’s race has something to do with all of this. Raj should seriously consider suing the selection committee. Remember the Korean in the 2004 Olympics. He actually is the Gold Medal All Around Champ. (Paul Hamm was incorrectly awarded the all-around gold medal after an error in the scoring for the routine of bronze medalist Yang Tae-young of South Korea. The International Gymnastics Federation said it would not alter the result as the South Koreans made their appeal too late. That was a big robbery the International Federation has made to Yang.) Paul Hamm knows in his heart that Yang won the gold with. Paul has no honor in his gold. Nevertheless, Raj, I believe, in the same circumstances would have given his gold medal to the Korean champ. Raj’s awesome attitude alone is that of a true champion and an all around great person. I hope that the U.S. selection committee changes their selection and let the men who were the top six at the trials go to the Olympics as they duly deserve. And please, don’t tell me about their strengths on events and such, the top six proved themselves at the trials and should be the team. Sender and Ham deserve to go, but they were not at the meet and Ham should not have been named a team member. He should have petitioned in and maybe, just maybe been put in if he fully recovers.

  30. 30 Mark Vincent June 30, 2008 at 12:05 am

    Raj should be on the team along with Sasha and Durante. Morgan should be off the team. I believe that Raj’s race has something to do with all of this. Raj should seriously consider suing the selection committee. Remember the Korean in the 2004 Olympics. He actually is the Gold Medal All Around Champ. (Paul Hamm was incorrectly awarded the all-around gold medal after an error in the scoring for the routine of bronze medalist Yang Tae-young of South Korea. The International Gymnastics Federation said it would not alter the result as the South Koreans made their appeal too late. That was a big robbery the International Federation has made to Yang.) Paul Hamm knows in his heart that Yang won the gold. Paul has no honor in his gold. Nevertheless, Raj, I believe, in the same circumstances would have given his gold medal to the Korean champ. Raj’s awesome attitude alone is that of a true champion and an all around great person. I hope that the U.S. selection committee changes their selection and let the men who were the top six at the trials go to the Olympics as they duly deserve. And please, don’t tell me about their strengths on events and such, the top six proved themselves at the trials and should be the team. Sender and Ham deserve to go, but they were not at the meet and Ham should not have been named a team member. He should have petitioned in and maybe, just maybe been put in if he fully recovers.

  31. 31 Kim July 3, 2008 at 1:39 am

    Reading through all the entries has definitely been interesting. I really agree with everyone who has something about Paul Hamm’s humility–or lack thereof. The Korean gymnast in 2004 should have won that gold medal. Paul Hamm just didn’t take a step on his landing–he landed off the mat completely. I read that in an interview recently Paul is looking to defend his gold medal.

    I was a Hamm twin fan the first 2 Olympics and all those inbetween years–not obsessed but hoped they did well. But retire already, guys. I know they can both do well if healthy, but their attitudes (at least Paul’s) are pretty lousy. The men’s team have gone through all the competitions since the 2004 Olympics–they’ve built this team. I thought it was kind of sad for the 2007 Worlds that Paul Hamm’s name still kept getting brought up and that that team NEEDED him to have any chance to medal. But they went from 13th to 4th in a year–without him. No they didn’t get a medal but that was a huge accomplishment in itself. They are the ones that qualified as a team to compete in these Games. So it’s just kind of sad that the Hamms decide they want to go to another Olympics and take spots away from guys who’ve been working for them the last four years. The one good thing is that their “comeback” has made all the other guys work much harder.

    I also think it would serve the men’s team well to select the team similarly to the women’s team. Though Kevin Mazeika (the coach) said he did like the advantage of being able to really start working as a team as early as possible. So the two programs are going at it in different ways and I hope they all do well!

    I’m also sad that Raj Bhavsar and David Durante were only named alternates. But they have the best chance of any alternates to compete with so many injured athletes on the team. It’s still only a chance–but there’s hope for them yet. And I think if they are brought up to compete on the team they’ll work even harder. So as someone said, let’s let it all play out. And then another 4 years of gymnastics drama until 2012. 🙂

  32. 32 CJ in Chicago July 3, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Ya know you folks are right, they are all rumors. But that’s what keeps up the hype. Perhaps what is needed for this team.
    It has been said that Kevin Tan was put on for his rings skills. Great. What about the other 5 events? Sure you need a sure shot, but as far as that goes, Sasha was more amazing in his last 20 seconds the second night of pommel than the “geat Morgan Ham” could ever hope to be. Maybe some say Sasha is not always a sure thing, but in this sport is anyone? IE P. Ham, Sender, etc., hurt just before trials. Put a kid out there who can be great at it all. His start values are way higher than anyone else. If you are taking chances on one even, or all around, Armetev is your man.
    Raj- maybe not the highest start value, but always right on. HE is the even, steady, humble team leader that the US needs. Focused and perfection.
    As for Durante, a power horse. Seriously, who said his family was not happy? REALLY??? Gee, his whole life goal, career, days and nights of putting everything aside to train, eat right, workout and is named an alternate. WHO WOULDN’T BE UPSET? Seriously, look at all of us here talking about this team that we really have nothing to do with and our emotions. That is just a stupid comment!
    When hopes and dreams of young athletes are on the line, of course there is dissapointment, most of us have felt it at sometime in our sports career or job. Unfortunatly it is life. Unfortunatly, there is no explination of how the team is picked, because every answer is different. Take a chance on a one shot or a steady performance.
    I hope the alternates all move up, they have a lot to prove.

  33. 33 GymDAD July 3, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    I have not posted in a few days. Justin Spring has a new website and it is worth a look, you can just see the excitment in his face about making this team.

    My inside sources (which are minor) have nothing new to throw at me, but everyone is anticipating the team get together in two weeks in CO Springs. I am hoping that the work outs will not be completely closed to the public. It will interesting to see if anyone shows up hurt and what kind of attitudes will be on display.

    This is not current news, but most of you already know the Hamms, Memmel and some other folks were signed way early for the Post Olympic Gymnastics Tour. Also the Hamms signed some major deals for endorsements etc… before Paul got hurt. I sincerely think Paul and Morgan both plan to do their best to get back to the Olympics, but it works out best for their sponsors if they at least drop out near the end. I do not think at all that this pending endorsement thing had anything to do with their selection to the team, but if they leave the team…now they will try to have that stretched to the end…maybe in Beijing.

    I still get the vibe that Durante is happy to still be in the mix and doing what he can to help lead behind the scenes. Raj is laying low and humble and might have been given a warning by Coach Maz. (which is his personal coach) to keep his emotions in check if he still wants a chance to move up. Sasha on the other hand is pouting (maybe rightfully so) and may work himself out of even an alternate trip to China because he has been less than professinal or honorable about his current role.

    What about the women?? Anyone know any news about that situation? I heard that Marta has all but said 5 positions are basically filled unless someone falls apart or gets hurt. I think Beiger has best hope of last spot (Marta likes the fact of her 2nd World AA award from a few years back as an added reputation for the team) Worley is working on a huge bars routine worth 7.0. I did hear again that Sacramone and Peseak and Worley were all 3 told to clean up their language around the other girls and in public and to be less party oriented. Someone is spreading some gossip that these girls may be a little too wild and to clean up their facebook and myspace pages asap.

  34. 34 MBA July 4, 2008 at 3:46 am

    This is in response to Sam’s earlier (June 25 ) blog.

    The previous writer (sam) is as blind as the selection commitee. He does not see that the selection committee assumes that both Paul and Morgan will be healthy and all the combinations for medals are based on them being healthy. In reality, they are not. Paul may be able to perform but not to the medal level. And Moragn is pumping his body with medicine to keep going. That showed on the last day on the floor. The selection commitee and prevois writer has ignored poor performance and are living in the dream world. Well the Chinese are going to hand it to them and to the team USA by at least 3 points. Hamms were good in past and prior to injury, the situation is different now and the mathematical combinations cannot see that. Don’t you just get it, you can do no wrong if your last name starts with “H” It brings good publicity, breaks the Guniess world record to have twins in three olympic. Raj was spooked by the selection committee’s process and rule breaking in 2004 and did not trust the process as similar politics can be played again. Had he been selected, he would have been under lot lesss pressure of committee politics and would have performed far better than the trials.

    Go back and put all your mathematical combinations with Paul only on Floor, Vault and high bar and injury plagued Morgan taken out after team qualification due to injury.

  35. 35 sam July 4, 2008 at 6:50 am

    “The previous writer (sam) is as blind as the selection commitee. He does not see that the selection committee assumes that both Paul and Morgan will be healthy and all the combinations for medals are based on them being healthy.”

    Yes, actually, I DO see that. I AM assuming they’ll be healthy, just as the selection committee does. If they’re not, they shouldn’t be on the team. I sincerely believe they’ll be ready for the Olympics. Last I heard, Morgan has a sprained ankle, Paul has a broken 4th metataursal (which I myself have had, so I have some sense of how big a deal this really isn’t, despite all the sturm und drang), Joe Hagerty has a bum shoulder, and Justin Spring has whatever ache and pain of the moment he has. Another day at the office for an elite athlete. Anybody too banged up to compete in top form at the Olympics should step aside. No disagreement there.

    By the same token, people advocating Sasha’s inclusion on the team are assuming he will not choke and go down at the Olympics like he’s done in three of his last 4 competitions. So it looks like there’s plenty assuming going around across the board.

    “Don’t you just get it, you can do no wrong if your last name starts with H”

    Ya know, that old line is just a lame crutch for malcontents, and it doesn’t even hold water. Hamm is hardly the pedigreed name of a gymnastics dynasty, like, say, Artemev or Tomita. And the Hamms certainly aren’t the first guys to earn spots on three U.S. Olympic teams (Bart Connor, John Rothlisberger and Blaine Wilson, for example. Alfred Jochom made 4 teams.). Like it or not, like THEM or not, the fact is that the Hamms are both great gymnasts and our team is best served with them on it.

    “It brings good publicity, breaks the Guniess world record to have twins in three olympic.”

    Um, yeah. And that’s so much more important to USAG and USOC than, oh say, winning medals.

    “Go back and put all your mathematical combinations with Paul only on Floor, Vault and high bar and injury plagued Morgan taken out after team qualification due to injury.”

    Actually, I didn’t do any mathematical combinations at all. I merely used weighted combined scores from national championships and qualifiers. The numbers I used are actuals, not theoreticals. You can find them at the USAG website.

    “Well the Chinese are going to hand it to them and to the team USA by at least 3 points.”

    Barring a mistake or serious injury, the Chinese probably are gonna hand it to us with or without either or both Hamms, with or without Raj. We’ve simply gotta put together the best team we can with our best medal chances, with or without Hamm, Hamms or Raj. My preference is that it would be with Raj. We just differ on the most likely medaling possibilities when it comes to team composition. In my opinion, Raj is absolutely wonderful and deserving but gives us absolutely no advantage over the team as it was selected.

  36. 36 sam July 4, 2008 at 6:55 am

    Correction to third to last graph where I wrote “Actually, I didn’t do any mathematical combinations at all. I merely used weighted combined scores from national championships and qualifiers.” The word “qualifiers” should be “Olympic Trials.”

    My bad.

  37. 37 GymDad July 4, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Hold on dudes. I think it can go either way. Do I think the SIX will be the six competing, no. I have supported that theory the whole time. I DO NOT see Kevin Maz and his camp taking the Hamms just because of who they are. They might even fly to Beijing but the alternates will know secretly in advance that they are really competing.

    Wait till we hear what comes out of camp in two weeks. I do think Paul and band-aid bro have alot to prove and at least band-aid for one does not do as well under pressure.

    Yes the selection committee gave way too too much credit on ancient history with the Hamms but they had to act or not. They had to name Paul – to even keep him in the mix and I think they had to name Morgan as he is only a 4 event man and they probably set up ground rules that alternates were going to be AA only. I do think the 3 man alternate instead of 2 is the most visible sign that they are covering their butts and really don’t think at least 1 or 2 men will compete.

  38. 38 micah July 6, 2008 at 3:22 am

    i mean people like raj who deserve to be on the team, not how deserve to be on the team.

    opps 🙂

  39. 39 Chitown Chick July 6, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    Hey everyone,

    Unless someone can post proof of any issues with Morgan Hamm, I’m going to keep deleting comments about it, and turn comments off for the post. There has been a lot of good discussion here and I don’t want to do that, but unsubstantiated accusations are not ok.

    Chitown Chick

  40. 40 micah July 11, 2008 at 6:15 am

    umm hi chitown chick i gave you info on where to read the report about morgan. i am not making it up so you just deleted an accurate blog. way to go

  41. 41 Chitown Chick July 12, 2008 at 12:05 am

    You need to post a link. If there is no link, it’s a slanderous comment, and I could be held liable. Sorry, I am not going to do that for your edification. Feel free to start your own blog and post what you’d like, but you can’t do it here.

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