Archive for the 'Paul Hamm' Category

Random Observations from the Men’s Gymnastic Trials

Jason Horton, Olympian

The men’s gymnastics team trials finished up on Saturday at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, and this event both wows and frustrates me. The athletes were fantastic – everything around them? Not so much.

Congratulations to Paul Hamm and Jonathan Horton, two of the members that were named to the team on Saturday. Hamm, the reigning Olympic all-around champ, has a broken hand but should be in good shape come August. Horton has been around the gymnastics scene for years, but this is his first Olympic team.

You have to feel for Raj Bhavsa. In 2004, he completed a fantastic trials. He hit every routine but didn’t score highly enough to automatically make the team. For some reason, he was not named to the team going to Athens. This year, he again had a fantastic trials, and still, didn’t automatically qualify. He is a dynamic performer, and clearly has some determination to come back four years later. I hope that he gets his name called today.

The broadcasting team of Tim Daggett, Al Trautwig, Elfie Schlagel and Andrea Joyce on the sidelines might be the most grating combo of announcers among all Olympic sports. To start the broadcast, Trautwig set up a quote from Leonardo DiCaprio from Titanic. As he was setting it up, my mind ran through all the memorable quotes from that atrocious movie, and I couldn’t think of any that fit the Olympic Trials. Then Trautwig comes out with “This is it.” You needed to watch Titanic to come up with that one? Andrea Joyce shows little by way of interviewing skills, which are kind of important in a sideline reporter. She asked David Sender, the reigning U.S. champion who sprained his ankle and had to withdraw from competition, to talk about what it felt like in his heart and his mind to have to withdraw from competition. He did a nice job answering her, and she reworded the same question, so that the poor kid basically had to say again, “It sucks.” Luckily for her and the tweens everywhere watching this, he answered her in a nicer manner than I would have. When talking to Horton right after he was named to the team, he started to answer that he couldn’t describe his feelings, but was clearly still answering her question when she prodded him like a nagging mother – Come on, try! It is going to be a long two weeks in August with her on the sidelines.

I am puzzled as to why they hold this event at all. It only yielded two team members for a team that needs six members! To automatically qualify for the team, the gymnast must place in the top two all-around, and place in the top three in at least three of the six events. After that, the team is decided by a committee from USA gymnastics. I completely understand why this is done – it ensures that the team members offer maximum medal potential and can bring in points to help the team. My question is – can’t they do this with the U.S. Championships, which were held a month ago? Then let the team start focusing on training, and not the stress of making the team.

Try the Trials: Diving and Gymnastics

With less than two months before the Olympics, the Trials are happening at a fast and furious pace. Diving and gymnastics preliminaries have already begun, and swimming and track and field are at the end of next week.

Diving: Laura Wilkinson is the most recognizable athlete trying to make the team. She won gold in Sydney, and was an Olympian again in 2004. You may have seen the commercials on NBC that proclaim she is still a contender – even though she is over 30. (GASP!) Not many divers have careers as long and prolific as Wilkinson’s, and gold in Beijing would be a fitting cherry on top. Christina Loukas is currently in the lead in the 3-meter springboard, and is earning her highest marks on the most difficult dives. Two teenagers dominate the early men’s competition. David Boudia and Thomas Finchum each earned four perfect tens on their first dives, and have the early lead in the 10m platform competition. Catch the rest of the diving trials live on NBC at 3:30 ET Saturday, and 3:00 ET on Sunday.

Gymnastics: The glamorous sport of the Olympics – that is, if you find busted ACL’s, broken bones, and ripped up, calloused skin glamorous. I digress. After day one of the men’s all around competition, Alexander Artemev is in the lead. The bigger stories are the injuries. David Sender, the U.S. all around champion, sprained his ankle in practice on Thursday. Paul Hamm broke his hand at the national championships. Both gentlemen are still eligible to be named to the team this Sunday.  The women start competition tonight. Shawn Johnson, the reigning world champion, will undoubtedly be one to watch, but the U.S. overall is as stacked and talented as they have ever been. Also check out Alicia Sacramone’s powerhouse vaults, and Nastia Liukin, the daughter of two Russian gymnasts. The men’s finals will air Saturday on NBC at 4:30 ET, women’s competition will air Saturday night at 8 ET, and 7 ET Sunday.

Paul Hamm has Surgery

Remember Paul Hamm?

The adorable scamp from Wisconsin who improbably won the men’s all-around in Athens, and then maybe didn’t, but actually did keep the gold medal, broke his hand at the Visa Championships on May 22. Surgery to repair the hand was successful, and he is optimistic that he will be able to compete in Beijing.