Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Hamm's achievement

Editorial, Lewiston Sun Journal, Aug. 25:

U.S. gymnast Paul Hamm won Olympic gold last week for his performance in the all-around gymnastics competition.

It was an amazing comeback after a fall seemed to knock Hamm out of the running for the gold medal.

But a mistake by three judges has sunk the achievement in controversy, and now the president of the International Gymnastics Federation has suggested that Hamm voluntarily give up his gold medal.Three judges erred in scoring the performance of Korean gymnast Yang Tae Young, who won the bronze medal. The mistake likely cost Yang the gold. The three judges have been punished. But the results can't be changed because the Korean team did not correctly protest the scores.

Judges are human, prone to mistakes like the rest of us. Scoring in gymnastics is subjective. Those facts are part of the sport.Corruption can not be tolerated in the Olympics. But there's no indication the all-around competition was fixed. As it stands, it was an honest mistake made by some of the best judges in the world, who have now been suspended.

Hamm shouldn't be pressured to turn in his gold for the mistakes of three judges and the Korean coaches, who let their athlete down. Hamm did nothing wrong. The medal is his.


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