INDIANAPOLIS – Veteran gymnasts Morgan Hamm, Blaine Wilson, Brett McClure and Raj Bhavsar will add another Worlds to their resume after being named to the 2003 World Championships team on Sunday following a selection camp at Ohio State University.
The four join U.S. All-Around Champion Paul Hamm and runner-up Jason Gatson who were automatically named to the Team after finishing first and second at the U.S. Championships, June 19-22 in Milwaukee, Wis. The Worlds Team alternates are Alexander Artemev and Guard Young.
"This was a very difficult decision for the men’s program committee, considering the incredible talent across the board within the program," said USA Gymnastics President Bob Colarossi. "This veteran group of men has medaled in every team event since the 2000 Olympics. We’re looking forward to some great performances in Anaheim this August."
The 2003 World Gymnastics Championships, Aug. 16-24 at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, will award individual event gold medals as well as team titles in both men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics disciplines. The World Championships also serve as the only route for athletes and countries to qualify for the 2004 Olympic Games.
Wilson brings the most experience to the team as a two-time Olympian, four-time Worlds Team member, and USA Gymastics’ only five-time consecutive National Champion. Morgan Hamm, who finished fourth all-around at the U.S. Nationals, is the two-time reigning U.S. floor exercise champion. The 2000 Olympian Morgan Hamm is the only Worlds first-timer on the squad.
McClure competed on the 2001 World Championships Team which won silver in Ghent, Belgium, and was one of four men selected to compete at the 2002 World Championships in Debrecen, Hungary. Bhavsar, the 2003 U.S. Championships vault gold medalist, competed alongside McClure at the 2001 Worlds and was the 2002 NCAA All-Around Champion for the Buckeyes.
The men’s Worlds Team is coached by Kevin Mazeika of Houston Gymnastics Academy.
The World Championships will be televised nationally on NBC Sports on Aug. 23 and 24 from 2-4 p.m. EST, plus one hour of primetime coverage from 7-8 p.m. Aug. 24.
Individual ticket prices range from $22-$75 depending on the date and session. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com, the Arrowhead Pond box office, by phone at 714-740-2000, and at all Ticketmaster outlets. For more information, log on to www.worlds03.com.
2003 U.S. Men’s World Championships Team (name, age, hometown/club)
Paul Hamm, 20, Waukesha, Wis./Chevron-Swiss Turners; Jason Gatson, 22, Upland, Calif./Chevron-USOTC; Blaine Wilson, 28, Columbus, Ohio/Chevron-Ohio State; Morgan Hamm, 20, Waukesha, Wis./Chevron-Swiss Turners; Brett McClure, 22, Mill Creek, Wash./Chevron-USOTC; Raj Bhavsar, 22, Houston, Texas/Chevron-Ohio State; alternate Alexander Artemev, 17, Lakewood, Colo./Team Gattaca; alternate Guard Young, 26, Oklahoma City/Chevron-Oklahoma.
Flash quotes from the 2003 U.S. Men’s World Gymnastics Championships Team announcement teleconference:
"Nationals was a tough competition for me. I didn’t do as well as I wanted. Coming into this camp, I was ready to go. I was more focused on making this team and getting to Anaheim. I’ve never felt better than I do right now about gymnastics and my ability to do gymnastics. I’m looking forward to being at the World Championships. I didn’t get to be a part of the last one, so I’m really looking forward to being a contributor in this one. I haven’t seen this much depth in a long time. There’s anywhere from 10-12 guys who could make that Olympic Team next year."
On competing All-Around at Worlds:
"For a long time, I’ve put aside by individual goals to compete in the All-Around. That’s a coaches decision. If I don’t do All-Around in Anaheim, I don’t do All-Around. Whatever the coaches feel we need to do to win, so be it. I’m there for the team medal above anything else. I have total faith that any of our guys they put up there for All-Around can win a medal."
On similarity to ’96 Olympics on U.S. soil:
"I believe this experience will be very similar to being in Atlanta (for the ’96 Olympics). I’ve been in a lot of events in a lot of countries where the home team has a decided advantage. It’s a momentum builder, especially for the guys on the team, that the people at this Worlds will want us to win. The crowd on your side gets your adrenaline pumping."
"When I came into this camp, I felt I had a pretty good shot to make it. The camp is a chance to prove ourselves. It’s hard having the camp so close after Nationals. Some of the guys are a little tired. I thought all the guys competed pretty well. I think the team is really strong. We have a lot of depth. The selection process was hard because we have so many guys good on all the events. I think we look really good for Worlds. I think we have a chance to win it all, definitely medal."
"I got the job done, and I’m happy to make the team, but there’s a bigger goal ahead. That’s why I’m not jumping for joy just yet, not until I’m standing on top of the podium. I think we’re extremely ready. We’re ready to take on the world and show them the biggest and best gymnastics that they’ve ever seen."
On finishing school and competing elite & NCAA:
"The word that comes to mind is ‘busy’. Everyone always asks how I do it, and I tell them time management. But I like it, I like to be busy and use gymnastics as a way to get away from everything else. Being in school makes you learn time management, to focus. School helps gymnastics, and gymnastics helps school. Now, I just have more time to focus on training, Worlds, the Olympics, and that aspect of my life."
"I believe our chances are pretty good that we’ll medal, even possibly win. This team has a lot of experience. I’m confident we’ll do well going into Anaheim. The 3-3 scoring helps us because we do have three very strong guys on every event. But it’s anybody’s ball game. I’m pretty confident we’ll go out there and do our job."