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Summer Olympics 2004

Finally, Hamm can call gold medal his

South Korean gymnast's appeal of the Olympic all-around results is rejected.

By Associated Press
Published October 22, 2004

For weeks, Paul Hamm's Olympic gold medal sat in a drawer at his boyhood home, carefully tucked inside a sock so it wouldn't be scratched or damaged. There was, after all, a chance he would have to give it to someone else.

Now, two months after it was first draped around his neck, the gold is his - finally and forever.

Sports' highest court rejected an appeal from a South Korean gymnast Thursday, ruling that Hamm is the rightful champion in the men's all-around competition at the Athens Games. The verdict is final and cannot be appealed.

"It feels like it's mine now. If I were to damage it in any way, it wouldn't be going to anyone else. If I ruin it, it's mine to ruin," Hamm said. "Now I'll be able to put it in a safe place and leave it there."

And leave this whole mess behind him.

"There's been a lot of fighting for this medal. I feel like I've won it three times," he said. "I think it'll mean that much more, that I'll be able to keep it for the rest of my life."

The decision by a three-judge panel from the Court of Arbitration for Sport ends a tussle that began more than two months ago, when Yang Tae-young claimed a scoring error had cost him victory. Yang asked the court to order international gymnastics officials to change the results and adjust the medal rankings accordingly, giving him the gold and Hamm the silver.

But the CAS panel dismissed the appeal, leaving Hamm with gold and Yang with bronze. Kim Dae-eun of South Korea will keep the silver.

CAS arbitrators said the Korean protest was submitted too late and that CAS was not in a position to correct results.

"The solution for error, either way, lies within the framework of the sport's own rules" and does not allow for a judge or arbitrator to step in later, the panel said. "An error identified with the benefit of hindsight, whether admitted or not, cannot be a ground for reversing a result of a competition."

Hamm said he had been optimistic after the Sept.27 CAS hearing in Lausanne, Switzerland, and he slept soundly Wednesday night.

He awoke at 6:15 a.m. Thursday to find a message from his agent, Sheryl Shade.

"It just said, "The medal ranking is going to stay,"' said Hamm, who immediately called his girlfriend with the news.

"This is obviously a great day for me," he said. "The decision from CAS confirms what I've always felt in my heart, which is that I was champion that night and the Olympic gold medalist. I competed my heart out. I'll put this behind me and move on."

That's what Yang wants, too.

"I hoped for a good decision, but I also didn't rule out a decision not in favor of me," he said from Seoul. "I don't want to think about it anymore."

The International Olympic Committee welcomed the decision, noting "its position has always been to say that the gold medal was awarded according to the FIG's results to Paul Hamm."

[Last modified October 22, 2004, 01:09:27]


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