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Hamm stumbles, then soars to gold

Paul Hamm
Hamm needed to score 9.825 in the final routine.
• Olympics 2004: Special report 

ATHENS, Greece -- Paul Hamm overcame a fall on the vault to become the first American to win an Olympics men's all-round gymnastics gold medal.

Hamm had slipped from first to 12th after stumbling as he landed from the vault but his 9.837 performance on the horizontal bars -- the last routine of the day -- was enough to give him the title with 57.823 points.

His margin of victory over South Korean Kim Dae-eun -- 0.012 points -- was the closest in Olympic history.

Another South Korean, Yang Tae-young, took the bronze.

Defending champion Yang Wei of China had led the standings with two routines left, but he could only finish seventh after inexplicably losing his grip on the horizontal bar.

In a spectacular climax, Hamm performed his set piece three release moves on the bars before flawlessly dismounting to complete a near-perfect performance.

"This is the most amazing comeback in gymnastics history," said Hamm's teammate, Brett McClure, who finished ninth. "Paul's worked really hard and he deserved to win."

"We all knew that Paul was the best coming in," said Bob Colarossi, president of USA Gymnastics.

"To fall and then have to do a perfect routine to win it and stick the landing, is incredible."

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