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Hamm's replacement named

July 28, 2008 |  2:54 pm

Raj Bhavsar swings off the horizontal bar during the men's second day of competition at the U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials in Philadelphia on June 21.

USA Gymnastics has named Raj Bhavsar to replace Paul Hamm on the Olympic men's gymnastics team.

Bhavsar, 27, has a poignant story of perseverance to tell. He was disillusioned after being named an Olympic alternate in 2004 and almost gave up on the sport. But he came back to try again. Only to be named an alternate again during the Olympic trials this year.

But after Hamm, the defending Olympic all-around gold medalist, gave up on his comeback from a broken bone in his hand earlier Monday, Bhavsar received news that was both good and bad.

"This is a tremendous honor, and the first feeling that comes to mind is that dreams can come true," Bhavsar said. "You never know when it will happen, but with enough positive intentions and belief, it can. Unfortunately this comes at the expense of a great athlete, Paul Hamm. My heart goes out to him. He did an admirable thing, and he will always be a hero in my eyes."

In a statement released Monday, Dennis McIntyre, director for men's programs at USA Gymnastics, said that, "given the current team makeup, we believe Raj is best suited to help the U.S. men's team in its pursuit of a team medal."

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: Raj Bhavsar swings off the horizontal bar during the men's second day of competition at the U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials in Philadelphia on June 21. Credit: Rob Carr/Associated Press Photo

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