Judging scandal still haunts Korean Yang

Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:27pm EDT
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By Hooyeon Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) - Twelve years have passed since South Korean gymnast Yang Tae-young stood stony faced on the podium to collect his Athens Olympics bronze medal, while beside him America's Paul Hamm beamed ear-to-ear with the gold draped around his neck.

Time, apparently, does not heal all wounds.

Yang was at the center of one of the Olympics' biggest controversies when a judging error at the 2004 Games docked him 0.1 of a point for his parallel bars routine, enough to cost him gold in the all-around competition.

The governing body of gymnastics (FIG) acknowledged that Hamm had been handed the gold in error but refused to change the result and redistribute the medals as officials said the South Koreans had failed to lodge their protest in time.

The FIG suspended the judges in question, and its president, Bruno Grandi, wrote to Hamm suggesting he give the gold to Yang in the ultimate show of sportsmanship.

After Hamm refused, Yang took case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport but his appeal was dismissed.

"I regret it even more now as a coach than I did when I was an athlete because I can no longer compete,” Yang told Reuters in a recent interview. “I want to go back in time and try again."

While missing out on the gold medal under those circumstances was hard enough for Yang to swallow, it would also have huge financial implications.   Continued...

FILE PHOTO - Yang Tae-young of South Korea practises on the rings during an artistic gymnastics training session at the National Indoor Stadium ahead of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 6, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File photo