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Was It An Undeserved Olympic Gold Medal

In one of the worst ever Olympic controversies, an Olympic gymnast was unfairly forbidden from winning the most prestigious Olympic gymna...

In one of the worst ever Olympic controversies, an Olympic gymnast was unfairly forbidden from winning the most prestigious Olympic gymnastics gold medal.

Probably South Korean gymnast Yang Tae-Young had endured the biggest injustice in his life when he wasn’t awarded the Olympic all  around gold medal in 2004 due to judges misidentifying one of the elements of his parallel bars routine causing him to score 9.712 instead of 9.812 which would have been enough to outscore the first placer American Paul Hamm.

The Korean team protested and the FIG investigated as a result  it was acknowledged that Yang’s routine had been in fact incorrectly given a 9.9 start value instead of 10.

Coaches and gymnasts are allowed to protest the start value but in Yang’s case it was too late since the appeal was filed after the competition ended however The Olympic Korean Committe claimed that a protest was lodged during the medal ceremony but the FIG denied such claim.
The FIG president Bruno Grandi suggested that Paul Hamm give his medal to Yang but the suggestion was met with refusal by both The United States Olympic Committee and Paul Hamm stating that Hamm should not be punished for errors judges made.

If, (according to you [sic] declarations to the press), you would return your medal to the Korean if the FIG requested it, then such an action would be recognised as the ultimate demonstration of Fair-play by the whole world. The FIG and the IOC would highly appreciate the magnitude of this gesture. Bruno Grandi’s letter

The USOC views this letter as a blatant and inappropriate attempt on the part of FIG to once again shift responsibility for its own mistakes and instead pressure Mr. Hamm into resolving what has become an embarrassing situation for the Federation. The USOC finds this request to be improper, outrageous and so far beyond the bounds of what is acceptable that it refuses to transmit the letter to Mr. Hamm.  USOC reply

Hamm supporters stated that since he was last to compete in the last rotation, he had adjusted his performance according to what score he needed in order to win. They also pointed out that Yang’s routine included four hangs instead of the three allowed, an error which if caught Yang would have been deducted with 0.2  but it was met by if gymnastics routines were to be rejudged, the outcome would have been different.

Hamm said on David Letterman that he believes he is the Olympic champion and the whole issue has nothing to do with him since the FIG decides everything. In another interview he said he shouldn’t even be dealing with it but later said he understands the feeling of disappointment of Yang and hopes he understands his too.

As a result of the controversy the judges were suspended. Yang was awarded a symbolic gold medal by the Korean Olympic Committee as well as prize money of an Olympic gold medal.

Written by Gigi Khazback Farid

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