<
>

Yang: I deserve to be champion

8/20/2004

ATHENS, Greece -- The International Gymnastics Federation
met Friday to review South Korea's protest of the score for Yang
Tae-young in the all-around that left him with the bronze medal and
gave American Paul Hamm the gold.

No matter what the result, though, scores cannot be reversed and
Hamm's medal cannot be taken away, FIG spokesman Philippe Silacci
said. He said FIG officials were reviewing tapes from Wednesday's
all-around to determine whether judges should be sanctioned.

Silacci said he expected a decision to be announced Saturday.

Hamm won Wednesday night's meet with a score of 57.823, 0.012
points better than South Korea's Kim Dae-eun in the closest
all-around finish in Olympic history. Yang finished third with a
score of 57.774.

South Korea's gymnastics federation says Yang's parallel bars
routine received a start value of 10 in team preliminaries and
finals, but only a 9.9 for the same set in the all-around.

Had Yang received the extra tenth of a point, he would have
finished first.

"Judges can make mistakes. That's human,'' Silacci said. "But
it's like football. They cannot change the score once the game is
over.''

Silacci said reviews like this normally come weeks or months
after the competition. But this "extraordinary meeting'' was being
held quickly so that, if needed, judges could be sanctioned before
Monday's parallel bars event final.

In an exclusive ABCNEWS.com interview with Yang and his coach, Lee Joo Hyung, Yang said he should have been the champion.

"What I want is justice and fairness in the judging," Yang, speaking in Korean, told ABCNEWS.com through a translator.

"His exercise was easy direct," Paul Ziert, publisher of International Gymnastics Magazine, told ABCNEWS.com. "We put it before at least 10 international judges and every single judge has come up with a 10."

Yang's coach, Lee, says that it would be fair for Yang and Hamm both to get gold medals.

"If we take a gold medal from Paul Hamm, his heart will be broken, and my heart would also be broken by that," Lee told ABCNEWS.com in Korean through a translator. "So I think there should be two gold medals."

The rules give countries the chance to make inquiries about
scoring decisions, but those inquiries can only result in a changed
score if they're put in before the following rotation is over.

"If you don't take advantage of that opportunity, then you lose
that opportunity,'' said USA Gymnastics president Bob Colarossi.

Hamm fell on the vault in Wednesday's all-around and scored a
9.137 that dropped him to 12th place, seemingly out of the running.
He closed with a pair of 9.837s on parallel bars and high bar, and
when several other gymnasts faltered, he won the gold medal.

Afterward, Romanians Ioan Suciu said "the USA got something
more than it deserved.''

When asked about the scoring the next day, Hamm said he felt
everything was fair.

"I feel like I just barely edged them out,'' he said. "If you
go back and look at the tapes, people can analyze it, and they'll
all come to that conclusion, I think.''

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.