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Gymnastics at the 2004 Athina Summer Games:

Men's Individual All-Around

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Host City: Athina, Greece
Venue(s): Olympic Indoor Hall, Athens Olympic Sports Complex Spiros Loues, Maroussi
Date Started: August 14, 2004
Date Finished: August 18, 2004

Gold: USA Paul Hamm
Silver: KOR Kim Dae-Eun
Bronze: KOR Yang Tae-Yeong


The format was different in 2004, with only 24 men advancing to the final round from the team qualifying, with no more than two allowed from any nations. Qualifying scores did not carry over to the final round. Previously, there were 36 finalists, with three allowed from each nation. This format had been used at the 2003 World Championships, although it had actually been used at the 1993 Worlds as well, but the format reverted to the 36/3 rule from 1995-2001. American [Paul Hamm] had won the all-around at the 2003 Worlds and came to Athinai as the favorite. He would eventually win the gold medal but in the most controversial men’s gymnastic event ever.

Hamm led the qualifying round, and he took an early lead in the final round. On his fourth rotation, however, the vault, Hamm missed his landing, scoring only 9.137 points and dropping to 12th place. He and his coach conferred and decided if he could score 9.8s on the final two rotations, he might be able to salvage a bronze medal. He then performed one of his best parallel bars routines ever, scoring 9.837 to move back into fourth place. The leaders after five rotations were the two Koreans, [Kim Dae-Eun] and [Yang Tae-Yeong]. Yang’s fifth rotation had been on parallel bars, on which he scored 9.712, but this would ignite the controversy.

Kim opened the final rotation on the floor exercise and scored 9.650 to remain in the lead, especially when Yang missed a grip on a pirouette on the high bar and scored only 9.475. Hamm then followed Yang on the high bar and nailed the routine, thinking he had secured the bronze medal, but when his score of 9.837 was posted, he had won the gold. At least it seemed he had.

Then the arguments began. The Koreans protested that on the parallel bars, Yang’s start value had been re-assigned as 9.9 instead of the 10.0 they felt it deserved. They approached the head judge, George Beckford, of the United States, who waved them off and discounted the complaint, stating that the start value was correct. The Korean officials then appealed to the A-panel judges, Bultrago Reyes of Colombia and Benjamin Bango of Spain. They reviewed the notes and spotted an error. Yang’s listed elements had included a Morisue (double back to upper arms) while it was actually a Belle (giant to double back to upper arms), and the difference would have increased his start value by 0.10 points, or up to the 10.0 the Koreans were claiming.

The Koreans claimed that Yang should be given the gold medal but the Americans also noted that Yang had made a mistake on his parallel bars routine, performing 4 hangs, although only 3 were allowed, and he had not been penalized for this. Had this error been noted, he would have had a 0.2 penalty and would have had a lower total score, even if the start value were corrected.

The Korean Olympic Committee disregarded this argument, stating that other gymnasts were not penalized for this, and then protested to the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG), which refused to hear it, stating that it was after the competition, and noting that their rules required all protests to be filed during the competition. Two days later the FIG Executive Committee reviewed the case and released a statement noting that Yang’s start value should have been 10.0, but did not change the results, although they suspended the three judges responsible.

Bruno Grandi, FIG President, then wrote a letter to Paul Hamm, sending it via the US Olympic Committee, in which Grandi urged Hamm to return the gold medal and give it to Yang. Grandi wrote, “I wish to remind you that the FIG Executive Committee has admitted the error of judgement made on the Parallel Bars and suspended the three responsible judges, two from the A panel and the FIG Technical Committee member. Indeed, the start value of the Korean gymnast Yang Tae Young was given as 9.9 instead of 10. As a result, the true winner of the All-Around competition is Yang Tae Young. If, (according to your declarations to the press), you would return your medal to the Korean if the FIG requested it, then such an action would be recognised as the ultimate demonstration of Fairplay by the whole world. The FIG and the IOC would highly appreciate the magnitude of this gesture. At this moment in time, you are the only one who can make this decision.”

The US Olympic Committee was not pleased with this letter from Grandi and refused to forward it to Hamm. Their response to Grandi included the following, “Your letter states ‘the IOC would highly appreciate the magnitude of this gesture.’ You should know that upon receipt of your letter, we immediately contacted the International Olympic Committee and its President, Dr. Jacques Rogge, which expressed its displeasure over the fact the FIG would even consider placing an athlete in such an untenable position and strongly stated they do not support the letter or its contents. Mr. Grandi, it is important to remind you that your own Federation rules, and your own public statements, clearly indicate that Mr. Hamm is the Olympic gold medalist in the 2004 Individual Men's All-Around. We share and support that viewpoint. The statement in your letter that ‘the true winner of the All-Around competition is Yang Tae Young’ is not only inconsistent with your rules and public statements, it is incorrect and undermines the very spirit of the Olympic Games. As stewards of the Olympic movement, we all share a responsibility to protect, and not sacrifice, the interests of athletes. We encourage you and other individuals within FIG, who saw this as an appropriate remedy, to begin taking that responsibility more seriously. Once again, we urge you to immediately retract this unacceptable request.”

The Korean officials and Yang were not yet done. They then appealed the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). A hearing was held in Lausanne, Switzerland on 27 September 2004 at which Hamm and the US Olympic Committee appeared. On 21 October the CAS announced their decision which supported Hamm, allowing him to keep the gold medal. The ruling noted, “An error identified with the benefit of hindsight, whether admitted or not, cannot be a ground for reversing a result of a competition.... However, quite apart from the consideration that no one can be certain how the competition in question would have turned out had the official's decision been different, for a Court to change the result would on this basis still involve interfering with a field of play decision. Each sport may have within it a mechanism for utilizing modern technology to ensure a correct decision is made in the first place (e.g. cricket with run-outs) or for immediately subjecting a controversial decision to a process of review (e.g. gymnastics) but the solution for error, either way, lies within the framework of the sport's own rules.” They also noted that the Korean protest was not made before the end of the competition, as required by FIG rules.

So the final result was 1) Paul Hamm (USA); 2) Kim Dae-Eun (KOR); 3) Yang Tae-Young (KOR). Pretty simple, eh?

View a Phase of this EventFinal StandingsFinalQualifying

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal PTS
1 Paul Hamm 21 United States USA Gold 57.823
2 Kim Dae-Eun 19 South Korea KOR Silver 57.811
3 Yang Tae-Yeong 24 South Korea KOR Bronze 57.774
4 Ioan Suciu 26 Romania ROU 57.648
5 Rafael Martínez 20 Spain ESP 57.549
6 Hiroyuki Tomita 23 Japan JPN 57.485
7 Yang Wei 24 China CHN 57.361
8 Marian Drăgulescu 23 Romania ROU 57.323
9 Brett McClure 23 United States USA 57.248
10 Roman Zozulia 25 Ukraine UKR 56.999
11 Isao Yoneda 26 Japan JPN 56.899
12 Georgy Grebenkov 22 Russia RUS 56.823
13 Aleksey Bondarenko 25 Russia RUS 56.800
14 Yernar Yerimbetov 24 Kazakhstan KAZ 56.398
15 Luis Vargas 21 Puerto Rico PUR 56.135
16 Ruslan Mezentsev 23 Ukraine UKR 56.060
17 Benoît Caranobe 24 France FRA 55.973
18 Igors Vihrovs 26 Latvia LAT 55.873
19 Pavel Gofman 24 Israel ISR 55.686
20 Eric López 31 Cuba CUB 55.449
21 Sergej Pfeifer 27 Germany GER 55.385
22 Ilia Giorgadze 26 Georgia GEO 55.272
23 Fabian Hambüchen 16 Germany GER 54.823
24 Andreas Schweizer 24 Switzerland SUI 54.612
25 Sven Kwiatkowski 27 Germany GER 55.835
26 Dan Potra 26 Romania ROU 55.749
27 Maksim Devyatovsky 20 Russia RUS 55.611
28 Abel Driggs 28 Cuba CUB 55.274
29 Adam Wong 19 Canada CAN 55.160
30 Alejandro Barrenechea 28 Spain ESP 55.098
31 Grant Golding 23 Canada CAN 55.011
32 Jorge Giraldo 24 Colombia COL 54.997
33 Mosiah Rodrigues 22 Brazil BRA 54.899
34 Igor Cassina 26 Italy ITA 54.849
35 Rúnar Alexandersson 27 Iceland ISL 54.798
36 Vlasis Maras 21 Greece GRE 54.699
37 Oriol Combarros 24 Spain ESP 54.662
38 Ng Shu Wai 19 Malaysia MAS 54.649
39 Dimitri Karbanenko 31 France FRA 54.561
40 Víctor Cano 26 Spain ESP 53.987
41 Matteo Morandi 22 Italy ITA 53.974
42 Denis Savenkov 20 Belarus BLR 53.624
43 Filipe Bezugo 23 Portugal POR 52.923
44 Enrico Pozzo 23 Italy ITA 52.812
45 Sasha Jeltkov 26 Canada CAN 52.649
46 Filip Yanev 22 Bulgaria BUL 52.586
47 Wajdi Bouallègue 22 Tunisia TUN 52.511
48 Naoya Tsukahara 27 Japan JPN 48.187
49 Takehiro Kashima 24 Japan JPN 47.799
50 Guard Young 27 United States USA 47.611
51 Xing Aowei 22 China CHN 47.499
52 Răzvan Șelariu 20 Romania ROU 47.487
53 Blaine Wilson 30 United States USA 47.386
54 Robert Juckel 22 Germany GER 47.074
55 Xiao Qin 19 China CHN 46.974
56 Vadym Kuvakin 20 Ukraine UKR 46.824
57 Florent Maree 23 France FRA 46.811
58 David Kikuchi 24 Canada CAN 46.437
59 Kim Seung-Il 19 South Korea KOR 46.324
60 Johan Mounard 25 France FRA 46.124
61 Anton Golotsutskov 19 Russia RUS 46.073
62 Alberto Busnari 25 Italy ITA 45.535
63 Andriy Mykhailychenko 23 Ukraine UKR 45.412
64 Teng Haibin 19 China CHN 45.099
65 Ivan Ivankov 29 Belarus BLR 38.837
66 Huang Xu 25 China CHN 38.761
67 Morgan Hamm 21 United States USA 38.662
68 Hisashi Mizutori 24 Japan JPN 38.337
69 Daisuke Nakano 21 Japan JPN 38.312
70 Kim Dong-Hwa 28 South Korea KOR 38.012
71 Lee Seon-Seong 23 South Korea KOR 37.899
72 Yann Cucherat 24 France FRA 37.874
73 Jason Gatson 24 United States USA 37.799
74 Yevhen Bohonosiuk 22 Ukraine UKR 37.424
75 Pierre-Yves Bény 21 France FRA 37.312
76 Jo Seong-Min 28 South Korea KOR 37.274
77 Matthias Fahrig 18 Germany GER 37.249
78 Kyle Shewfelt 22 Canada CAN 36.748
79 Matteo Angioletti 23 Italy ITA 36.361
80 Marius Urzică 28 Romania ROU 29.187
81 Valeriy Honcharov 26 Ukraine UKR 28.899
82 Aleksey Nemov 28 Russia RUS 28.887
83 Thomas Andergassen 24 Germany GER 28.836
84 Li Xiaopeng 23 China CHN 28.699
85 Jury Chechi 34 Italy ITA 28.499
86 Philippe Rizzo 23 Australia AUS 27.350
87 Jesús Carballo 27 Spain ESP 27.099
88 Christoph Schärer 23 Switzerland SUI 27.037
89 Ken Ikeda 22 Canada CAN 26.524
90 Yordan Yovchev 31 Bulgaria BUL 19.512
91 Gervasio Deferr 23 Spain ESP 19.387
92 Jevgēņijs Saproņenko 25 Latvia LAT 19.287
93 Daniel Popescu 21 Romania ROU 19.187
94 Róbert Gál 25 Hungary HUN 19.137
95 Aleksandr Safoshkin 28 Russia RUS 18.962
96 Ri Jong-Song 22 North Korea PRK 18.837
97 Kim Hyon-Il 27 North Korea PRK 18.649
98 Dimosthenis Tambakos 27 Greece GRE 9.850