Paul Hamm
© Max Morse

HOUSTON, Texas, May 22, 2008 – 2004 Olympic all-around champion Paul Hamm of Waukesha, Wis., leads the men’s all-around competition at the 2008 Visa Championships at Reliant Arena in Houston, Texas, after the first of two days of competition. The final round is Saturday, May 24, at 6 p.m. CT. Scores from both days of competition are combined to determine the final all-around and individual event rankings. All athletes who competed today advanced to Saturday’s final day of competition. Gymnasts will advance to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Gymnastics based on performances at the 2008 Visa Championships.

Going into day two, Hamm has a comfortable cushion in the all-around with his score of 93.450. Joseph Hagerty of Rio Rancho, N.M., was second with an 89.750, and David Sender of Arlington Heights, Ill., and Raj Bhavsar of Houston tied for third at 89.700.

The highest scores of the night were: Paul and Morgan Hamm, tie on floor exercise, 15.750; Paul Hamm, pommel horse, 15.500, and horizontal bar, 15.900; Morgan Hamm, vault, 16.400; Kevin Tan of Fremont, Calif., still rings, 16.650; and David Durante of Garwood, N.J., parallel bars, 15.500. Three of the highest scores were posted by defending U.S. champions on those events: Paul Hamm, floor exercise; Tan, still rings; and Durante, parallel bars.

Paul Hamm’s horizontal bar routine included an impressive release sequence and ended with a laid-out double-double. He ended his floor exercise routine with a double layout to tie for the day’s high score with his brother, Morgan. Hamm, who was impressive throughout the competition, injured the ring finger on his right hand on his last apparatus, the parallel bars.

“My hand was jammed on parallel bars and I felt a shift in the bones,” Paul Hamm said. “Hopefully it will be okay. I’m going to ice it and hope it’s okay for Saturday.”

Three-time Olympian Blaine Wilson of Columbus, Ohio, withdrew from the competition after the second rotation and has announced his retirement from competitive gymnastics.

“Truthfully, I just don’t feel real well,” Wilson said. “I’m just tired and there comes a time when you know it’s time to walk away. Warm-ups were great, and the last couple days were great. All good things come to an end. It was just time.

“This is not about me retiring,” Wilson continued. “These guys have spent their lives, especially the last four years, training for this Olympic Games and it’s not about me. It’s about them making the team. Quietly, I should be able to just walk away. I don’t want to take away from what they are doing on the floor.”

The Visa Championships in Houston features competition in men’s gymnastics, as well as rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline and tumbling. In addition, the U.S. Classic, a women’s qualifier to their Visa Championships, is being held in conjunction with the Visa Championships.

Rhythmic gymnastics: Wang wins all four individual event titles

Lisa Wang of Buffalo Grove, Ill., won all four senior individual event titles on the first day of rhythmic gymnastics competition at the 2008 Visa Championships at Reliant Park in Houston. Wang finished in first place in the all-around qualification round, on target to win her third straight all-around title. In the junior division, Marlee Shape of Buffalo Grove, Ill., won the individual titles in ball, ribbon and rope, with Rebecca Sereda of Las Vegas, Nev., earning the hoop crown. Shape also is leading in the junior all-around following the qualification round. The junior and senior all-around finals are on Saturday, May 24.

“It was amazing to win all four events,” Wang said. “I was calm coming into this meet and just wanted to go out there and have the time of my life. This is potentially my last meet, so I want to go out with a bang.”

In the senior division’s individual event finals, Ava Gehringer of Evanston, Ill., and Rachel Marmer of Los Angeles split the four silver medals and Julie Zetlin captured three bronze, with the fourth bronze going to Marmer.

Wang took top honors in hoop and rope with a 16.700 and the titles in ribbon and clubs with scores of 16.550. In clubs, Marmer was second at 15.875, with Zetlin in third at 15.475. For hoop, Gehringer and Marmer scored a 15.925 and a 15.550, respectively, for second and third. Gehringer and Zetlin also went two-three in ribbon with scores of 15.775 and 15.750, respectively. Marmer was second in rope with her score of 16.225, followed by Zetlin at 15.375.

In the preliminary round of the all-around, Wang was first at 66.500, Marmer was second at 62.575 and Gehringer was third at 62.200. The remaining gymnasts who advanced to the all-around finals are: Julie Zetlin, Rebecca Wallenstein, Sofya Roytburg, Sarah Kudishevich, Nicole Chillingworth, JoAnna Arnold, Rachel Girma, Delaney Lonergan and Emily Barnett.

For the juniors, Shape won three of the four event titles (ball, ribbon and rope), with the hoop crown going to Sereda along with two silver medals. Shape also earned the silver medal in hoop. Magid and Torba each earned two bronze medals. The remaining individual event medalists are: ball — Viktoriya Syatkina, silver, and Gabrielle Magid, bronze; hoop — Anastasia Torba, bronze; ribbon – Sereda, silver, and Magid, bronze; and rope – Sereda, silver, and Torba, bronze.

In the junior all-around, Shape posted a 59.900 total, followed by Sereda at 57.800 and Magid at 56.150. The others who advanced to the all-around finals are: Torba, Polina Kozitskiy, Syatkina, Jazzy Kerber, Katherine Scarnechia, Michelle Milstein, Cindy Lu, Jessica Bogdanov and Olga Pavlenko.

About the Visa Championships
Tickets are still available for the Visa Championships, the national championships for men’s artistic, rhythmic gymnastics, and trampoline and tumbling. Single-session tickets range from $20-85 for men’s gymnastics, with those for rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline selling for $15 and $20. Tickets may be purchased charge by phone at 713-629-3700; online at; at all Ticketmaster outlets; or at the Reliant Stadium South Box Office. Visa is the only card accepted for the 2008 Visa Championships.

The remaining schedule for men’s artistic gymnastics is: May 24—junior men’s all-around and individual event finals at 12:30 p.m., and the final day of the senior men’s competition at 6 p.m. On May 23, Reliant Arena will host the U.S. Classic, a women’s gymnastics event. To view a participant list for the U.S. Classic, click here.

The upcoming schedule for rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline is: Friday, May 23—junior trampoline and tumb