© John Cheng

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., July 28, 2008 – Raj Bhavsar of Houston will replace Paul Hamm, who withdrew from the team earlier today, on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team for men’s gymnastics, pending approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee. The Men’s Selection Committee reached the decision today.

“All of our alternates have been working hard and are ready to support the men’s team, if called upon. The Men’s Selection Committee has named Raj to the team based on the evaluation of various team scenarios,” said Dennis McIntyre, director for men’s program at USA Gymnastics. “Given the current team make-up, we believe Raj is best suited to help the U.S. men’s team in its pursuit of a team medal.”

“This is a tremendous honor and the first feeling that comes to mind is that dreams can come true,” said Bhavsar, 27, who was an alternate on the 2004 Olympic Team. “You never know when it will happen, but with enough positive intention and belief, it can. I am ready, willing and able to take on this great opportunity. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of a great athlete, Paul Hamm. My heart goes out to him. He did an admirable thing, and he will always be a hero in my eyes. I also want to recognize the other two alternates, who are an important part of the soul and spirit of this team.”

Bhavsar finished second on parallel bars and third in the all-around, still rings and vault in the weighted, combined rankings from the 2008 Visa Championships and the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Gymnastics. At the 2008 Visa Championships, he tied for third on vault and still rings, as well as placed fifth in the all-around. Bhavsar finished second in the all-around at the 2008 Winter Cup Challenge. He was a member of the 2001 U.S. World Championships Team that earned an unprecedented silver medal, and he helped United States defend that medal at the 2003 World Championships.

“Raj will be a strong asset to this team,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “Not only will he contribute through his gymnastics ability, but also his leadership and emotional energy will be important to our team effort. Along with all of his teammates, including David Durante and Alex Artemev, we are confident that the U.S. team will be a medal contender in Beijing.”

In addition to Bhavsar, the U.S. Olympic Team for men’s gymnastics includes: Joseph Hagerty of Rio Rancho, N.M./Team Chevron; Morgan Hamm of Waukesha, Wis./Team Chevron; Jonathan Horton of Houston/Team Chevron; Justin Spring of Burke, Va./Team Chevron; and Kevin Tan of Fremont, Calif./Team Chevron. The replacement athletes are Alexander Artemev of Morrison, Colo./Team Chevron; and David Durante of Garwood, N.J./Team Chevron. Hamm resigned from the team earlier today because he did not believe he would be able to contribute to the team’s efforts due to physical limitations.