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Hamm to Have Surgery on Broken Hand
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HOUSTON — Reigning Olympic champion Paul Hamm will undergo surgery on his fractured right hand and will petition directly to the U.S. Olympic team, his coach Miles Avery announced Friday.

"He won't be able to do the Olympic Trials," Avery said. "The course of action for that is to petition him to the team. And try to prove his readiness later in the summer, closer to the Games."

Hamm suffered the injury on parallel bars in the final rotation of the first day of the U.S. Championships for men in Houston. During a stutz to one bar, his finger shifted on contact with the rail and he felt something pop, he said.

X-rays on Friday showed a fracture in the fourth metacarpal.

"We have decided the best course of action is to put in a screw. Now we are trying to decide which doctor will be the best," Avery said. "If he can be back in four to five weeks, we think we can get him back to this level, which is high, and do very well."

According to the guidelines for the U.S. men's Olympic selection procedure, athletes who are unable to compete in the Olympic Trials may petition to the Men's Olympic Selection Committee for a spot on the Olympic team.

"Our selection procedures allow for a petition directly to the Olympic team for just this type of situation," said Dennis McIntyre, men's program director for USA Gymnastics and a member of the five-man selection committee.

The injury is the first setback in Hamm's outstanding comeback. Following his controversial win at the 2004 Olympics, he took a three-year break from competition. He returned at the 2007 U.S. Championships in San Jose, Calif., competing two events.

Hamm returned to the all-around in 2008, winning both the American Cup and Pacific Rim titles in March. Despite the fall on parallel bars on Thursday, he easily led the competition by nearly four points.

Hamm will stay in Houston to watch twin brother Morgan compete in day two on Saturday.

"He knows he can come back from this," Avery said of Paul. "He's a little anxious, but he's doing fine."

Read "Full Plate," an interview with Miles Avery, in the May 2008 issue of International Gymnast Magazine

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