Thursday, August 07, 2008

No Hamm In Beijing

About a week ago, I posted that the reigning all-around Olympic gymnastics gold medalist Paul Hamm withdrew from the Olympic competition in Beijing due to injury.

Today, his twin brother Morgan also had to withdraw.

Morgan Hamm’s eyes were red, his voice shaky.

The bone spurs digging into his left leg made it impossible for him to tumble, and giving up his spot on the U.S. men’s gymnastics team was the right thing to do — the only thing to do. That didn’t make it hurt any less.

Hamm withdrew two days before competition begins. He aggravated a chronic injury in his left ankle during training in Beijing, and it never responded to treatment. He clearly struggled on floor exercise during the men’s training session.

“This has been an extremely hard decision for me to make. I’ve given everything I can to be ready to compete at this Olympic Games,” Hamm said. “It’s best for me to step down and have another athlete fill my position. This is something for me that’s very tough because it’s end of my career, and it’s not the way I had planned it.”

Morgan Hamm tore a muscle in his chest in early October, an injury that required a five-month rehab. He was able to return, but the injured ankle continued to give him trouble, and he aggravated it after he got to Beijing. Bone spurs from his ankle dig into his tibia, producing “extreme” pain.

Hamm had tried taping, ultrasound and other therapies to treat the injury early on. When those didn’t work, his doctor gave him an injection of a glucocorticosteroid, a cortisone-like anti-inflammatory, on May 2 in hopes of reducing the swelling and inflammation. That resulted in a positive doping test at nationals; the drug is allowed if an athlete gets a therapeutic use exemption, which he failed to do.

Hamm had to have another cortisone shot before he left for Beijing. Even though it usually takes more than 24 hours for cortisone to provide relief, he had yet another Wednesday.

The Hamms’ withdrawals mean the Americans, once considered favorites to return to the medals podium, now have no one with Olympic experience. Sasha Artemev, the 2006 national champion and world bronze medalist on pommel horse, will replace Morgan Hamm.
I was really looking forward to watching them compete.


michael sean morris said...

Poor guy. There's such a narrow window for a gymnast to compete, and this was obviously his.

more cowbell said...

My middle daughter (aka Teen Demon) has loved these guys since she was a little girl -- she was SO looking forward to watching them this year, and was just crushed to hear the news.