Paul Hamm
© Max Morse

SAN JOSE, Calif., March 30, 2008 – On the last day of the individual event finals, the U.S. men and women claimed a total of 15 medals, nine gold, two silver and four bronze, at the 2008 Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships presented by Gillette Venus in San Jose, Calif. Adding in the men’s and women’s team gold medals, as well as both the men’s and women’s junior and senior all-around gold medals and three silver medals, the U.S. squad collected 15 gold, five silver and four bronze for a total of 24 medals for the three-day competition.

In individual event finals, Paul Hamm of Waukesha, Wis., won both the pommel horse and parallel bars titles, as well as a silver in the floor exercise and a bronze on the horizontal bar, in addition to his all-around title earlier in the week. Nastia Liukin of Parker, Texas, who won the women’s all-around title, took top honors on the balance beam, as well as second on the uneven bars. Jana Bieger of Coconut Creek, Fla., was the uneven bars champion and took second on the balance beam. Darlene Hill of Mt. Laurel, N.J., won the floor exercise crown.

In the junior division, Rebecca Bross of Plano, Texas, the junior all-around titlist, claimed three gold medals – vault, balance beam and floor exercise. Samantha Shapiro of Los Angeles won the uneven bars. For the men, Glen Ishino of Santa Ana, Calif., was the silver medalist on the horizontal bar, and Danell Leyva of Miami was third in the parallel bars.


Hamm won the pommel horse with a 15.375, followed by China’s Lu Bo at 15.350 and Heng Wong at 15.275. Hamm hit his pommel routine, which includes a flair sequence. Alexander Artemev of Lakewood, Colo., finished fifth at 14.525 after missing a new skill, a flopping sequence to a Russian. On floor, Hamm was second behind Canada’s Brandon O’Neill. On rings, Hamm finished fifth behind teammate Raj Bhavsar of Houston. Lu Bo of China won rings. On parallel bars, Hamm executed a very clean routine and tied for first with China’s Heng Wang at 15.825. On the horizontal bar, Hamm scored a 15.250, finishing behind Australia’s Philippe Rizzo and Yuri Riazanov, respectively.

“This week was really good,” said Hamm. “The first day was excellent, except for the error on pommel horse. Today had a different feel and atmosphere than the team competition, but I still did solid routines and I am happy with my progress. I think I am getting close to where I want to be.

"Every competition before the Olympics is an opportunity to test myself. This one helped get me experience in the team environment and get a feel for the individual event finals, which are so different than team. This was a good experience.”

Artemev struggled in the event finals, finishing fifth on the pommel horse, sixth in the floor exercise, seventh on horizontal bar and eighth on the parallel bars.


Bieger won the uneven bars with a 15.550, finishing ahead of Liukin and Canada’s Kristina Vaculik, who tied for second at 15.225. Bieger gave a solid routine, finishing with a tuck full-in. Liukin missed a Geinger release but her well-choreographed routine still enabled her to earn a 15.225 and to tie for second. Bieger also was third on balance beam with a 15.525.

“I’m definitely happy,” said Bieger. “I wanted to prove I can hit beam and that’s what I did.”

Liukin won the beam title, scoring a 16.175 for her elegant routine that ended with a round-off two-and-a-half. China’s Huang Qiushuang was second at 15.675.

“After falling on the uneven bars, I wanted to prove that I’m a fighter and I didn’t give up,” said Liukin, who bounced back from bars to win the beam crown. “I was a little tired but two days back to back in competition is good experience, especially after our suc