'I won the event'
Hamm tells Letterman he wouldn't want to share all-around gold
NEW YORK (AP) -- Olympic all-around champion Paul Hamm said Wednesday he would prefer not to share his gold medal with South Korea's Yang Tae-young despite a judging mistake that ultimately cost Yang the gold.
In an interview on CBS' "The Late Show with David Letterman," Hamm was asked about having another gold medal issued for Yang.
"I personally feel in my heart I was the Olympic champion that night," Hamm said. "I would be a little bit upset if another gold medal was awarded because I really felt I won the event."
The studio audience agreed, applauding and chanting, "U-S-A! U-S-A!"
After a disastrous fall on the vault, Hamm dropped from first place after three rotations to 12th after four. He followed with brilliant performances on the parallel bars and high bar, allowing him to edge Yang, who finished with the bronze, just 0.049 points behind.
But the judges failed to give Yang enough points for the level of difficulty on the parallel bars. That triggered an uproar, with South Korea lobbying for another gold medal.
Officials of the International Gymnastics Federation, or FIG, suspended three judges and acknowledged Yang should have been awarded more points for his routine based on the degree of difficulty. Had he been given the correct score, Yang would have won the gold and Hamm the silver.
The suspensions puzzled Hamm, who said a review of the tape also showed the judges missed a mistake in Yang's routine.
"What's unusual is these mistakes with the start scores are made all the time throughout these Olympics," Hamm said. "It was strange they ended up sanctioning those judges when other judges made those mistakes as well."
"So if you're upset about any of this," Letterman told the studio audience, "send your e-mails to FIG."
Hamm said his first days as an Olympic champion have not been what he expected, given the constant questions and suggestions of how he should handle the mess.
"Do you mind if I bother you a little more?" Letterman quipped. "If you get fed up, just hit me with one of your medals."
Hamm detailed his amazing comeback victory in the all-around and his silver-medal performance in the high bar, which was preceded by boos from the crowd because it was unhappy with a score given to the previous competitor, Russia's Alexei Nemov.
All the booing during the high bar competition left Hamm with few expectations as he began his routine, he said.
"I'd never been put in a situation like that before," he said.
To which Letterman replied, "I've had that where people start booing me Monday night and they are still booing on Tuesday."
KD Editorial: WHAT A GREEDY GOD DAMN FUCKING LOSER PAUL HAMM IS... OVERALL THE OLYMPICS IS TO PUT THE BEST ATHLETES ON THE PLANET TO COMPETE FOR A GOLD MEDAL, FIRST I DONT GET WHATS THE BIG DEAL ABOUT A GOLD MEDAL, ITS NOT LIKE YOUR GOING TO BE A STAR AFTER THIS, ITS ALL TRULY ABOUT FAME HERE, NOT ABOUT AMERICAN PRIDE... VERY STUPID FOR AMERICANS TO ACT LIKE THAT ONCE AGAIN, THE GREED HERE INSLATES THAT CAPTAIN AMERICA THINKS HE WAS THE CHAMPION THAT NIGHT, YET THE SOUTH KOREAN WAS JUST AS EQUALLY GOOD, JUST JUDGING WAS INCORRECT. I WOULD GIVE A GOLD TO SK JUST TO SHUT THEM UP AND THEN STRIP HAMM'S GOLD FOR BEING A SORE SPORT IN THE END AND TARNISH HIS GOLD MEDAL ... I LAFF AT HOW THE PEOPLE STARTED CHANTING "USA, USA" AS IF THEY TRULY HAD PRIDE FROM THE GET GO, NOBODYS EVEN WATCHING THESE OLYMPICS, AS WELL AS THE FUNNIER FACT THAT AFTER 9/11, THE "AMERICAN PRIDE" CAME OUT IN THE WAVING OF AMERICAN FLAGS, THEN IT BECAME A SPORT , SEEING WHO WAS "MOST PATRIOTIC AND HAD FLAGS DECALED ALL OVER THEIR CARS, I MEAN, SHEESH ITS BAD ENUFF, BUT NOW COMPETING OVER WHO HAS THE MOST FLAGS. WHEN WILL THIS GREEDINESS OF AMERICAN END??? WE ALL SHARE AND SHARE ALIKE....