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Hamm's rehab ahead of schedule

South graduate, Olympic champion hopes to compete at U.S. championships

June 16, 2011

Paul Hamm knows his illustrious gymnastics career is winding down.

And that's why the Waukesha South High School graduate appears determined to not let recent injuries set him back from his goal to compete one more time on the national and world stage.

Hamm, 28, said last week that after having major shoulder surgery in January there is a "small possibility" he could compete at the U.S. championships Aug. 17 to 20 in St. Paul, Minn.

The 2004 Olympic All-Around champion had surgery for a torn labrum on his right shoulder, but during the surgery his doctors noticed it was worse than they expected. They found Hamm also had a torn rotator cuff and his biceps were beginning to split.

Hamm said he had a grade 4 SLAP tear (the highest grade) and that doctors had to stitch together the bicep tendon.

Prior to the injury, Hamm was well on his way to returning to competition for the first time since 2008. He was planning to make a comeback at the Winter Cup, a U.S. ranking meet, in February.

However, he has not given up since the surgery. He has spent this time rehabbing and training in preparation for his latest comeback. This is pleasant surprise since Hamm said in a recent interview the recovery for the type of surgery he had is usually six months.

It has not even been five months since Hamm's surgery, and he already is performing on the high and parallel bars. If Hamm can compete later this summer, it would mark the first time since the 2008 U.S. championships.

He was scheduled to compete in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, but he broke his hand two months prior at the U.S. championships. Moreover, an injured shoulder forced him to withdraw a few weeks before the Olympics.

After that injury, the thought of Hamm wearing red, white and blue in another Olympics was further from his mind. In fact, he moved to Chicago and landed a job as a finance trader.

However, he left that job to resume a gymnastics career that has had its share of twists and turns over the years.

But now if Hamm remains on schedule and the rehab continues to progress, Hamm could participate in the world championships on Oct. 7 to 16 in Tokyo. They are the main qualifier for the 2012 Olympics, which takes place in London.

And if Hamm can compete at the Olympics, he would finally have an opportunity to defend his all-around championship he won in Athens, Greece, seven years ago. Hamm, a three-time Olympic medalist, is the only American man to win gold in that event.

In addition to the 2004 Olympic Games, Hamm has also competed in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

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