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Paul Hamm is back on top in the all-around in men’s gymnastics. The defending Olympic champion won February’s Winter Challenge Cup held in Las Vegas with a two-day total of 185.85 points. He also added victories in the floor exercise and parallel bars.
“After the Visa Championships, I have been training very hard,“ said Hamm, who won the floor title at the nationals last summer after taking time off to complete his education. “It has been extremely difficult to get back into competitive shape following a two-and-a-half-year break from the sport. Right now I feel good, my routines are looking strong and I am confident.“
In Athens in 2004, Hamm, 25, became the first U.S. male athlete to win the all-around gold medal in gymnastics. He added a silver medal on the high bar and led, along with his training partner and twin brother, Morgan, the U.S. men’s team to the silver medal.
Hamm and his brother (natives of Waukesha, Wisconsin) made history in 2000 as the first twins to compete in the same Olympic Games in gymnastics. The duo moved to Columbus, Ohio, in 2003 to train for the Athens Games. The move paid off as Paul Hamm became the first U.S. male gymnast to win the all-around at the world championships, helped the U.S. men’s team place second and shared the gold medal in the floor exercise. Now an injury to Morgan has forced the two to take different career paths.
“Morgan has trained with me my entire life,“ Hamm said. “We both made the decision to come back for another Olympic run. Unfortunately, Morgan tore his pectoralis major. He had surgery and is doing his best to get back into competitive form. It is [our] goal to make this Olympic team, and we are going to do everything we can to get that accomplished.“
Hamm graduated from Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business in June 2007, earning an accounting degree with a 3.9 overall GPA. He was named magna cum laude, as was his brother, who majored in exercise science. Now Paul is preparing to go to business school—maybe even in Chicago.
Right now, however, Hamm is hoping to repeat as Olympic champ. “My game plan for Beijing is very similar to the plan I had going into Athens,“ he said. “I intend to make a trip to Europe during the spring and also compete at the U.S. Championships and Olympic trials. I intend to be on top of my game to guarantee my spot on the six-man team that will go to Beijing. Then I will design a training plan to peak in Beijing, giving me the best chance to bring home Olympic medals for the United States.“