BOSTON -- The Olympics will be double the fun for Paul and Morgan Hamm.
The 17-year-old twin brothers from Wisconsin parlayed their steady upward climb into a stunning surprise Saturday in the Olympic trials, becoming the first twins to make the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team.
Joining them in Sydney will be five-time defending national champion Blaine Wilson, 1997 junior national champion Sean Townsend, 1996 hard-luck gymnast Stephen McCain and 30-year-old John Roethlisberger, who wept openly when he heard his name called -- his performance good enough to send him to a third Olympics.
Going as an alternate is Jamie Natalie, the NCAA champion who finished fifth in the overall scoring but apparently couldn't match Roethlisberger for experience or Morgan Hamm for versatility.
Wilson, Paul Hamm, Townsend and McCain finished first through fourth in the two-day competition, where scores were combined with those at U.S. nationals to determine four automatic slots.
The final two spots were chosen by the men's selection committee, headed by coach Peter Kormann.
The committee gave one to Roethlisberger, despite his seventh-place finish. He will become the sixth American male gymnast to compete in three Olympics. The final spot went to sixth-place finisher Morgan Hamm for his excellence on the floor and vault. Left out was Natalie, a high-bar specialist who didn't show the same consistency in other events.
Whether intentionally or not, the committee also gave men's gymnastics huge potential for a surge in popularity. After years in the shadows of the women's program, the men have a pair of all-American, freckle-faced teen-agers who look like a Wheaties box waiting to happen.
But it's big, powerful routines, not good looks, that have brought the Hamms to the forefront in a shorter time than most people expected.
Paul Hamm has always been a bit ahead of Morgan, and in two dominating days at trials, he looked every bit the Olympian.
On high bar, he executed a near flawless move.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.