Friday, January 11, 2008

Gymnasts Shawn Johnson, Paul Hamm headline American Cup at N.Y.

NEW YORK (AP) — Defending world champion Shawn Johnson and
defending Olympic champion Paul Hamm will be featured at the
American Cup, one of the top gymnastics meets in the leadup to the
Beijing Olympics.

World beam champion Nastia Liukin, Shayla Worley and Jonathan
Horton, a fourth-place finisher in last year’s all-around at
worlds, are the other Americans slated to compete at Madison Square
Garden on March 1.

It will mark the first international event for Hamm, who is
coming back after a three-year retirement from competition
following his gold-medal performance in Athens in 2004. Hamm, who
competed on floor and pommel horse at nationals last August, is
scheduled for his first full competition next month at Winter
Cup. It’s a ranking meet leading up to nationals in May.

Johnson established herself as the favorite for Beijing with her
victory at worlds last year, becoming the fourth U.S. woman to win
the world championship in the all-around. Liukin is expected to
challenge Johnson, and their meeting at American Cup will be the
first of several between the teammates this year.

Fabian Hambuechen of Germany, who wowed the home crowd by
winning the all-around silver medal at worlds last year, is
expected to perform, along with last year’s bronze medalist,
Hisashi Mizutori of Japan. The rest of the international field has
not been announced.

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