Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Hamm, Liukin take early lead in race for Olympic gold

Hamm, Liukin take early lead in race for Olympic gold

Paul Hamm and Nastia Liukin won the American Cup gymastics competition Saturday, a prestigious international meet that often serves as a preview for the Olympic all-around competition.
This was Hamm's first international meet since he won the gold medal in Athens almost four years ago, and he dominated as if he'd never been away. He scored 94.4 despite a fall off pommel horse, and finished more than three points ahead of fellow American Sasha Artemev (91.150) and reigning world bronze medalist Hisashi Mizutori (90.950).
Liukin, who was upstaged by Shawn Johnson last year as she struggled with an ankle injury, rebounded in impressive form. She finished with 63.425 points while Johnson, the reigning world champion, scored 63.1 after a fall on a tough, new vault.
Hamm had an easy time at a domestic meet (Winter Cup) last month, but this was supposed to be a much tougher test with Mizutori and Fabian Hambuechen, runner-up at the last worlds, along with Jonathan Horton, fourth at worlds, and Romania's Flavius Koczi, seventh at worlds.
But Hambuechen withdrew after warmups because of the flu, and there were spills and bobbles aplenty from everybody else.
Hamm was particularly impressive on the high bar. His back-to-back release moves drew raves from the crowd although he had to windmill his arms a couple of times to hold his landing.
After a nagging ankle injury hampered training last year, Liukin, a two-time U.S. champion, was impressive in her signature event, the uneven bars.
Her score of 16.6 was the highest of the day on any event, by a man or woman, and it moved her into first place for good.
Johnson was her usual solid self. Her only trouble came on vault, her first event. She's doing a new vault that only a few other people in the world do, and she landed it short, needing to take several steps back before sitting down on the mat.
She still scored a 15.175, the best score on vault of the day, and had the highest scores on floor and balance beam. But the fall was enough to put her behind Liukin.


Updated : 2021-05-16 18:16 GMT+08:00