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Yang performs such difficult maneuvers on every event that this isn't a fair fight. On pommel horse, he works his way around in a perfectly controlled rhythm, no movements wasted, no exertion showing on his face. On still rings, he moved from strength pose to another as if to say, "Oh, you like that? Well how about this one?"
On parallel bars, he flipped from one handstand right into another and came to a dead stop, his body as straight as an arrow.
He wasn't perfect. He slipped on a landing on floor, both feet sliding out of bounds. And he took small steps on his landings on both vault and still rings.
But he had built such a commanding lead after five events that he could have fallen off the high bar, his weakest event, and still come away with the gold. He didn't fall, but the routine was somewhat anti-climatic. He wobbled after getting off-balance on a pirouette, and banged into the bar as he came down to catch it after a release move.
It hardly mattered, though. He is the best gymnast of the day, and he has the gold medal to prove it.
There is one person who might have given Yang a fight, but Hamm was watching back home in Columbus, Ohio.
After taking 2 1/2 years following a gold-medal win in Athens, Hamm looked better than ever earlier this year. He doesn't pack the difficulty in his routines that Yang does, but Yang can't touch Hamm's precision and polish.
It was going to be a spectacular matchup -- until Hamm broke his hand May 22 at the national championships. The American sped through his recovery to get to Beijing, but announced July 28 that the hand and a strained shoulder would keep him from competing.
That removed Yang's only real obstacle to gold.
"You can think about the what if, what if, what if," said Hamm's coach, Miles Avery. "But Paul isn't here so that isn't an issue."
Meanwhile, the few others expected to be contenders never really made it a fight. Hiroyuki Tomita, the only other man to win the world title since Athens, peeled off still rings on his dismount and finished fourth. Fabian Hambuechen, the silver medalist at world's last year, fell from high bar, his signature event, and wound up seventh.
Yang Tae-young, who caused such a stir at the Athens Games when he won a bronze medal that he thought should have been gold, dropped to eighth after a dismal pommel horse routine.
Uchimura made an impressive recovery after falling twice off pommel horse, his second event. Just 19, he is one of the newest members of the Japanese team, and could be a big factor in 2012. Caranobe had never come close to winning an all-around medal, and seemed as surprised as everyone else that he was on the podium.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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