- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 12, 2008

From combined dispatches

A week after Paul Hamm was cleared to do gymnastics again, the Olympic gold medalist’s coach is “tremendously encouraged” by his progress from a broken hand.

Hamm is training for five of his six events, including doing a full routine on pommel horse, coach Miles Avery said Friday. Hamm isn’t vaulting yet as a precautionary measure, but likely will start next week - just in time for the July 19 training camp where he must show he is physically able to compete at the Beijing Olympics.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Avery said. “Obviously, it relieves some of that stress of, ‘Are we going to get this done?’ … He does have a little pain in it, but he continues icing and doing the things you need to do to keep it under control.

“So far, so good.”

Hamm broke the fourth metacarpal in his right hand May 22 in the final seconds of his parallel bars routine at the national championships. Five days later, hand specialist Dr. Lawrence Lubbers repaired the break with a titanium plate and nine small screws.

The men’s competition in Beijing begins Aug. 9, giving Hamm a very tight timetable for his recovery. He was off gymnastics equipment for six weeks, though he spent three hours each day doing strength and conditioning exercises to maintain his fitness level.

On July 3, Lubbers cleared Hamm to resume full training after X-rays showed the break had healed enough to withstand the force of gymnastics.

Isinbayeva betters mark

ROME | Russian Yelena Isinbayeva improved her own pole vault world record to 16 feet, 6 inches at the Golden Gala meet.

She cleared the record height (5.03 meters) with ease on her second attempt Friday at the Golden Gala meet, nearly three years after her previous record of 16-5 1/4 (5.01 meters) at the 2005 world championships in Helsinki.

Also, former world-record holder Asafa Powell pulled out of the 100-meter final with a groin problem.

The Jamaican burst out of the blocks in his heat, took the lead midway, then pulled up and crossed fifth in 10.19 seconds. Though he claimed the final qualifying spot for the nine-man final, Powell decided not to run.

Also, double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius missed out in another attempt to qualify for the Olympics, but sliced more than a second off his 400-meter time from last week.

The South African finished in 46.62 seconds to place seventh in the 400 meter B race. He must run a 45.55 to qualify for the Olympics.

Chambers tops at trials

BIRMINGHAM, England | Dwain Chambers blocked out his legal challenge against a lifetime Olympic doping ban to advance to the semifinals of the 100 meters at Britain’s Beijing trials with the fastest time in qualifying heats.

Chambers won the first heat in 10.14 seconds at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium.

Even if he secures one of the top two places in Saturday’s final, his Beijing berth depends on a judge granting an injunction next week against the British Olympic Association bylaw that hands drugs cheats a lifetime ban.

“I try not to think about it - I’ve just got to let my legs do the talking,” Chambers said. “I can’t worry about finishing first or second, what’s going to be will be.

“I proved I’m in good shape, but I’ve just got to hold it up here mentally because there’s a lot riding on my performance here over the weekend that will determine what happens next week.”

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