Colorado’s Alexander Artemev leads the men’s all-around field after the first day of competition at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials – Gymnastics taking place at the Wachovia Center. But the competition is tight as a mere .15 separates Artemev (90.650) from third-place Raj Bhavsar of Houston (90.500). Jonathan Horton is second with a 90.550. The high score of the night belonged to Kevin Tan on the rings with a 16.550, while Camden’s Sean Golden was the leader on vault with a 16.200.
The men will conclude their portion of the trials Saturday afternoon, starting at 3 p.m.
Opening night observations
There seemed to be a lot of empty seats on Thursday’s opening night of competition at the Wachovia Center, but the crowd will likely hit its peak for Sunday night’s women’s final, which will be broadcast live on NBC. The biggest cheers of the night, at least from where I was sitting, belonged to hometown favorite Golden. He only competed in the rings, floor exercise and vault, and finished in the top four of all three. Some of his fans made “Go Sean” signs with Olympic rings on it. An M.C. floating around the building kept the crowd, which included a lot of young area gymnasts, entertained during breaks. One lucky fan even got to meet Blaine Wilson for answering a trivia question correctly.
Hamm eyes Olympic return
One of the hot topics of conversations on Thursday was 2004 Olympic Champion Paul Hamm and whether or not he will be ready to compete for the United States in Beijing less than two months from now. Hamm broke the fourth metacarpal (one of the bones between his wrist and fingers) in his right hand during his parallel bar routine at the U.S. men’s gymnastics championships, which took place in Houston last month.
The surgery, which included inserting nine screws in the injured area, was performed a little over three weeks ago by Dr. Lawrence Lubbers, a member of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Hamm is optimistic that he will be ready to compete in his third Olympic Games. But the injury has forced Hamm to skip the trials.
“I don’t like being in this position,” he said of skipping the Olympic Trials. “I would love to be out there competing with them. Unfortunately this is the way it worked out.”
The athlete had to petition for a spot on the team as a result of the injury.
Lubbers said Hamm’s recovery has been remarkable.
“Right now, his fracture is healing in an accelerated fashion,” the doctor said. “He achieved full mobility within a week and he started strengthening within two weeks of surgery. We are now working to help him train appropriately as the hand regains full strength.”
Hamm said he thinks by the time the Olympic Games roll around he will be able to do all six events.