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Hamm: 'The gold's gone for sure'

Updated: August 20, 2004, 11:16 AM ET
By Seth Wickersham | ESPN The Magazine

ATHENS, Greece -- Hamm? No, Hamm was out of it. Everyone knew.

The American had just taken his chance at a gold medal and tossed it like a stone into the Mediterranean, stumbling off the vault like a man stepping on his own shoe lace, nearly falling onto the judges' table the way basketball players do when trying to save a loose ball. His hopes were hopeless.

Sure, Paul Hamm had pulled an Elway before, coming back from a separated shoulder last year to win the World Championships, ...

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