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Defending gymnastics champion won't go to Beijing

US Olympic all-around gymnastics title holder Paul Hamm has decided not to take part in the Olympic Games. A broken right hand and a "lost bid to come back" have made him decide not to defend his title.

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Paul Hamm won't defend his Olympic all-around gymnastics title in Beijing after all as the American said Monday he had lost his bid to come back in time from a broken hand.

Although Hamm had displayed a high enough level recently to convince US selectors to send him to Beijing, he notified USA Gymnastics on Monday that he was resigning from the team, the federation said.

"I have put my heart and soul into my comeback and done everything I could to get ready in time to compete in Beijing," Hamm said in a statement released by USA Gymnastics.

"After returning home from the preparation camp, I had a few physical setbacks, and it became clear to me that my physical preparations would not be sufficient to properly represent the United States and contribute to the team’s efforts to win a medal."

Hamm made a return to competitive gymnastics in August 2007 after a nearly three-year layoff after the 2004 Games to complete his education.

This year he won the all-around title at the Winter Cup Challenge, Tyson American Cup and Pacific Rim Championships presented by Gillette Venus, but his Beijing bid was slowed when he broke his right hand in May.

He underwent surgery on May 27 and missed the US Olympic trials in June but petitioned his way onto the US Olympic squad.

On July 19, Hamm performed his routines in a special demonstration to show he was fit enough to compete in the Olympics.

Since then, however, Hamm said he had encountered further setbacks.

"I recently strained my rotator cuff and have been unable to perform all of my skills. I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to make a comeback. At this point in time, the success of the team and fairness to the team, and the alternates, is most important. While I am very disappointed, I feel I can wait no longer to make this decision."

"We admire Paul for making this difficult decision," said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics.

"Paul’s comeback this year has been phenomenal, made even more impressive following the injury to his hand. He has raised the level of determination among the entire team to put forth a medal winning effort in China."

Hamm was hoping to defend an all-around title won amid controversy in Athens.

In 2004, he fell in vaulting but rallied to win the all-around gold medal by the smallest margin in Olympic gymnastics history with South Korean Yang Tae-Young placing third.

A gold medal was barely around Hamm's neck when controversy erupted. Judges discovered they gave Yang too low a start value for his routine and that based on scores that followed, it should have been the Korean claiming the gold.

International Gymnastics Federation officials declared Hamm the winner and the Court of Arbitration for Sport denied an appeal from Yang.

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