Olympic gold medalist Paul Hamm could begin moderate gymnastics as early as Friday, about two weeks before he has to show he will be physically able to compete at the Beijing Games.
Hamm, who broke a bone in his hand May 22, will have another X-ray on Thursday. If Dr. Lawrence Lubbers, the hand specialist who operated on Hamm, likes what he sees, he’ll give Hamm clearance to push his training.
“Starting Friday, I think it’s time to start ramping him up,” Lubbers said Tuesday.
“We’ll be taking some things that are probably not so stressful on his hands, like giants on high bar, let him start swinging around. Get him up on parallel bars and doing some maneuvers that won’t involve too much twisting.”
Hamm broke the fourth metacarpal in his right hand in the closing seconds of his parallel bars routine at the national championships. During surgery May 27, Lubbers inserted a titanium plate and nine small screws to repair the break.
Hamm has been seven to 10 days ahead of schedule in his recovery and, in a video on his and twin brother Morgan’s Web site, can be seen doing flips, push-ups and strength moves on the still rings and parallel bars.
“We’ve been a little more conservative so we don’t have a setback,” Lubbers said. “I think Friday we’re going to have to loosen up a lot and move him toward progression of routines.”
Because Hamm has been diligent about his strength training since the injury — he hasn’t lost any muscle tone in his right arm — Lubbers hopes it won’t be long before Hamm is ahead of schedule in the gym, too.
Good thing, because Hamm — like the other five members of the team — has to show physical readiness at a July 19 training camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“We only have just enough time in this whole process to have him be in super shape and ready to go on the 9th of August and good enough to prove himself on the (19th) of July,” Lubbers said. “We are right on that timetable.”