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Morgan Hamm completes comeback, makes 3rd Olympic team

Gymnast will head to Beijing with twin brother and defending gold medalist Paul.

PHILADELPHIA — Morgan Hamm will be joining his brother at the Olympics.

Morgan Hamm was selected for the U.S. men’s gymnastics team for the Beijing Games on Sunday, along with Kevin Tan, Joseph Hagerty and Justin Spring. Paul Hamm, the reigning Olympic champion and Morgan’s twin, and Jonathan Horton were put on the team Saturday after the conclusion of the Olympic trials.

Raj Bhavsar, David Durante and Sasha Artemev are the alternates. The entire team still has to show physical readiness at a July 22 training camp in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Sunday’s announcement caps a roller-coaster comeback for Morgan Hamm. Like his brother, he took 2 1/2 years off after the Athens Game before resuming training in hopes of making his third Olympic team. But he tore a muscle in his chest last October, and didn’t compete again until the national championships last month.

He struggled Saturday, too, after injuring his ankle the first day of trials. But he is a model of consistency, somebody the United States can count on for solid, if not spectacular, routines every time he takes the floor. He also could contend for an individual medal on floor exercise, and will give the Americans a strong score on pommel horse, their weakest event.

Tan, a member of the last three U.S. world championship teams, is one of the world’s best on still rings. Spring is perhaps the most dynamic gymnast the United States has, priding himself on doing hair-raising routines that will impress even the X-Games set. But he came to trials with the most to prove after blowing out his knee last August and not even doing a floor routine since April after he rolled his ankle.

Hagerty is an unknown internationally, one of only two members of the current national team who hasn’t been to a world championships or Olympics. But he was rock steady throughout the entire selection process, his only miss in 24 routines coming on pommel horse Saturday.

The biggest surprise was Artemev being named an alternate. He has perhaps the most pure talent of anyone and is among the world’s best on pommel horse, winning a bronze medal on the event at the 2006 world championships. But he is maddeningly inconsistent. He fell on pommel horse three out of the four days at nationals and trials, and also botched his high bar and vault routines Saturday.

Paul Hamm didn’t compete at trials after breaking a bone in his hand at last month’s national championships. He is already ahead of schedule in his recovery, and his inclusion is not a surprise. Neither is Horton, who was fourth at the world championships last year and can put up big scores on every event but pommel horse.

David Sender, the national champion, was shut out after spraining his ankle during a fluke training accident Wednesday.

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