Gatson, Wilson giving chase at U.S. Championships



MILWAUKEE – Paul Hamm’s double-gold performance in the Individual Event Finals in front of a hometown crowd spurned the 2002 All-Around champion to the early lead on Friday at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Milwaukee, Wis.

Hamm, 20, of Waukesha, Wis. scored a 9.750 to repeat as pommel horse champion, and added a second gold with a 9.575 on the horizontal bar to walk away as the night’s big winner. With more than 100 family and friends in the audience, the pro-Hamm crowd roared as Hamm took the early lead in the all-around with a preliminary mark of 57.050.

"It’s the second year I won pommel and the first time I won high bar. That’s one of my better events. It’s a good feeling," Hamm said. "This is the first time I can ever remember so many (athletes) contending for the all-around title. Last year, it was just me and Blaine Wilson. This year, it’s one of any four guys."

Hamm is followed closely by parallel bars national champion Jason Gatson at 56.675 and still rings champ Blaine Wilson at 55.775.

The U.S. All-Around title is determined using 50 percent of Friday’s All-Around preliminary score plus 50 percent of Sunday’s All-Around Final scores.

Gatson – gymnastics’ comeback kid – returned to full-strength competition for the first time since knee injuries sidelined him in 1999, taking the parallel bars with a 9.800.

Wilson endured a comeback of his own, scoring a 7.900 on his first apparatus – the pommel horse – to put him in 35th place. Wilson slowly climbed back to third in the preliminary all-around standings, averaging at 9.575 across his remaining five events, including the gold on rings, silver on vault, and bronze on floor.

Morgan Hamm also earned a repeat medal, taking first on the floor exercise for the second consecutive year, with a 9.675, followed by brother Paul.

The 2003 U.S. Gymnastics Championships, June 19-22 at the U.S. Cellular Arena and the Midwest Airlines Center, is the most prestigious national gymnastics competition of the year, featuring the top stars in the sport vying for coveted national All-Around and individual event titles.

Also up for grabs are automatic berths on the U.S. National Team headed to the 2003 World Championships, Aug. 16-24 in Anaheim, Calif.

The U.S. Championships will be televised by NBC Sports. The women’s Senior Event Finals will air at 2-4 p.m. EDT on Saturday, followed by the women’s Senior All-Around Finals at 3-5 p.m. EDT Sunday. The men’s competition will air from 3:30-5 p.m. EDT on Aug. 2.

Competition continues Friday, June 20 with Junior Rhythmic All-Around Finals at 9:45 a.m., Junior Men’s All-Around and Event Finals at 1 p.m., Senior Rhythmic All-Around Finals at 3 p.m., and Senior Men’s All-Around Prelims and Event Finals at 7 p.m.

U.S. Gymnastics Championships Individual Event Finals Medalists

FX – 1, Morgan Hamm, 9.675; 2, Paul Hamm, 9.575; 3, Blaine Wilson, 9.525; 4T, Guard Young, 9.400; 4T, Guillermo Alvarez, 9.400; 6, Dan Gill, 9.375, Stanford.
PH – 1, Paul Hamm, 9.750; 2, Brett McClure, 9.650; 3, Cody Moore, 9.550. 4, Alexander Artemev, 9.475; 5, Jason Gatson, 9.450; 6T, David Durante, 9.425; 6T, Guard Young, 9.425; 6T, Ryan Schwartzkopf, 9.425.
SR – 1T, Blaine Wilson, 9.825; 1T, Marshall Erwin, 9.825; 3, Jeff Johnson, 9.700; 4, Kevin Tan, 9.675; 5, Jason Gatson, 9.650; 6T, Jason Furr, 9.625; 6T, Sean Townsend, 9.625.
VT – 1, Raj Bhavsar, 9.900; 2, Blaine Wilson, 9.800; 2, Graham Ackerman, 9.800; 4, David Sender, 9.650; 5T, Dan Gill, 9.625; 5T, Alexander Artemev, 9.625.
PB – 1, Jason Gatson, 9.800; 2T, Guard Young, 9.625; 2T, Paul Hamm, 9.625; 4, Blaine Wilson, 9.600; 5, D.J. Bucher, 9.450; 6, RAj Bhavsar, 9.250.
HB – 1, Paul Hamm, 9.575; 2, Fredric Umali, 9.500; 3, Steve McCain, 9.450; 4, David Durante, 9.400; 5, Morgan Hamm, 9.350; 6T, Jason Gatson, 9.225; 6T, Daniel Furney, 9.225.