As his twin had before him, US gymnast Morgan Hamm withdrew from the Olympics on Thursday after a chronic ankle injury worsened. "This has been an extremely hard decision for me to make," said the 25-year-old Hamm, who had come out of retirement and survived a torn pectoral muscle to make his third team. "It's been a long, tough year. I put my heart and soul into gymnastics. To get here and not be able to compete is extremely disappointing."
Last week his brother Paul, the Olympic defending all-around champion who had broken a bone in his right hand in May, also withdrew after his left shoulder began acting up. Without the Hamms, the only two returning members from the team that won the silver medal in Athens, prospects for the US team become decidedly dimmer. With the qualifying competition beginning Saturday, coach Kevin Mazeika will have to tap another alternate for his lineup (Raj Bhavsar replaced Paul Hamm). The choice will be between Alexander Artemev and David Durante.
Hamm, who would have been a key contributor on floor exercise and horizontal bar, reinjured his left ankle in practice when he came up short on a tumbling pass. When he couldn't complete a floor routine during yesterday's podium training, Hamm consulted with personal coach Miles Avery and decided to pull out of the Games. "It's very tough because it's the end of my career," said Hamm, "and it's not the way I planned it."