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US men gymnastic team holds same expectation without Paul Hamm
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U.S. leading gymnast Morgan Hamm said on Wednesday that the absence of his brother Paul Hamm will not affect the expectation of the U.S. men's team for the Beijing Olympic Games.

"Paul Hamm's absence will not make a difference to our expectation at the Beijing Olympics. Our goal is still to get the team into the final and get out gymnasts on the medal podium," said the 25-year-old at a press conference attended by the U.S. men's gymnastic team.

Morgan Hamm was sorry about the absence of Paul as he is a great gymnast but he believed the U.S. side has got a great alternative.

"What you are talking is really making not much difference. We will try every step and see what we can do, and I am happy Raj (Bhavsar) is with us," said Morgan.

Paul, the men's all-around gold medallist in Athens, was forced to withdraw from the Olympic team at the end of last month, failing to recover in time from a hand injury sustained in May.

Raj of Houston was chosen to replace Paul. The USA Gymnastics has said they believed Raj is best suited to help the men's team in its pursuit of a team medal.

Raj told reporters at the press conference that he was very excited that he can participate in the Olympic Games for the first time and make some contribution to the U.S. team.

"To be in the Olympics is my personal goal. I really love to be here with these guys next to me," said Raj.

It is the third time for Morgan to take part in the Olympic Games. He said he could feel the excitement of his teammates as it is their first Olympics, and he will help them in the competition.

"I am really happy to be here and Beijing has got great facilities. Both the Olympic Village and the food there are good. I will enjoy the process of competition and take everything in as it will be my last Olympics," added Morgan.

Morgan tended to retire after the Beijing Olympics, but has not got any exact plan thereafter. The veteran said he has ever talked with Chinese men gymnasts but they did not have much communication because of language barrier.

He knew the Chinese team also has lots of experienced athletes like him, such as Li Xiaopeng and Yang Wei. "The Chinese competitors are tough and we will wait and see what they get in the competition," said Morgan.

When asked about the performance of the Chinese team, U.S. head coach Kavin Mazeika repeatedly said, "We are concentrating on things which we have control over. We are really focusing on ourselves and trying to be consistent in our qualification."

Morgan Hamm and other U.S. gymnasts helped the U.S. win the team silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games, while the Chinese men's team claimed the title in the Sydney Olympics and in the world championships in past three years consecutively.

The two contingents are widely regarded as the most hopeful to wage a rush on the team gold in the Beijing Olympics.

(Xinhua News Agency August 6, 2008)

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