| Paul Hamm snatched a thrilling gold in the men’s all-around competition at the world championships in Anaheim on Thursday. (Reuters)
Anaheim: Paul Hamm won the individual all-around gold at the World Championships here by a 0.064 point margin over Yang Wei of China, becoming the first American man to claim the all-around world title.
Hamm, who won silver with the US team Tuesday, Friday posted a total of 57.774 points over the six disciplines, to 57.710 for silver medallist Yang. Hiroyuki Tomita, of Japan, grabbed the bronze with 57.435 points.
“It has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid,” said Hamm. “To be a world champion is such an incredible thing.”
Hamm, a two-time American national all-around champion, took the lead after the second rotation, scoring a 9.700 on the pommel horse.
Hamm fell to second after the rings and then missed his landing on the vault on the fourth rotation but still managed to score 9.537. He reclaimed the lead in dramatic fashion on the final high-bar routine. Heading into the high bar, Hamm needed to score in the 9.7s to clinch the gold. He nailed his landing to score a 9.775 and become the first US male gymnast to win the all-around at the worlds.
“I knew I needed to hit my routine perfectly,” said Hamm.
Hamm failed to medal in all-around at the 2001 worlds because of a bad score on high bar. He finished seventh.
“It was going through my mind because I had a disastrous routine there, hitting my face. I knew I needed to score between 9.7 and 9.8,” he said.
The only other time an American has won a medal at the worlds was Kurt Thomas’ silver in 1979. Hamm, who at 17 was the youngest US male gymnast at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, is looking forward to competing in the 2004 Athens Games. “I just need to keep doing what I am doing,” said Hamm. ”I think I am in a good position to be in the all-around there.”
Yang took the lead at the halfway point and held it until the final rotation. He scored a 9.637 on the vault for a 28.849 total heading into the fourth rotation. “I am happy with how I did today,” said Yang. “But the results were different than what I expected.” (AFP)