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The INSIDE Interview: Paul Hamm

July 21, 2010
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Hamm in 2004Shortly after he announced his return to the sport and goal of a third Games yesterday, Inside talked to 2004 Olympic Champ Paul Hamm about why he wants to comeback, and what he still hopes to get out of, and give back to, the sport …

INSIDE: What made you want to launch another comeback?

HAMM: I kind of have thought about it ever since '08, but in the past, maybe, six or eight months I've really been giving it serious consideration. It's for the reasons you would expect. The fact that I win the '04 Olympics and there's controversy around it, then I make a comeback for '08 and finish my career off with a really fluke injury.

Now, I have one more chance to do it again and I'm going to take it.

INSIDE: You'd been out of the sport, completely, for a while. Working and seemingly settled in that career world. What drew you back?

HAMM: Well, the good thing is that I can always go back and work [laughs]. I can actually go back and work at the same company I've been working at, because I left on good terms, which is awesome.

But I know that I am still physically capable of competing at a high level. I kind of want to see how good of a gymnast I can actually be. There are more things I can learn. And I have been learning since I started to get back in the gym.

And it's fun! There are lot of things about it that are really hard, difficult and stressful but, at the same time, it's kind of a fun thing to go through. Especially when you know that it's something you can only do for so long.

INSIDE: Share a little about what your life was like in Chicago …

HAMM: I was working for a firm, Breakwater Trading, so my day consisted of waking up very early in the morning. I'd be at work around 6:00 [AM] and then work until 4:00 [PM]. Mainly I was just involved with monitoring the Treasury bond market and being involved in making trades.

INSIDE: Was it work you enjoyed?

HAMM: It is because the job was very competitive and it's also a job where you're always critiquing yourself and trying to be better.

It's kind of competing to be perfect, just the way gymnastics is.

The stress of the job and the early hours are bothersome, but I can definitely see myself getting back into it after I make another attempt at the Olympics.

INSIDE: You had talked about wanting to get your M.B.A., is that still something you're hoping to do?

HAMM: I haven't done that yet and that is, actually, a thought of mine, following this comeback.

Maybe I'll take some time to study for the GMAT and get a kick-butt score and get into a school like the University of Chicago or Northwestern; one of the top five business schools. That would be sweet.

INSIDE: When did a comeback become more than an idea, and actually turn into a plan?

HAMM: This past spring I really started to push myself to get into good physical shape. I was doing some weight lifting and cardio stuff and then I started going to the gym.

Keep in mind that I still haven't gotten to the point where I'm seriously training. I'm just about to start doing that now. I was working 10 hours a day and trying to go to the gym afterwards when I was dead tired. It was tough.

But I was also noticing that I could still do this. That I was still progressing.

I worked that way a little while longer and then I got to the point where I was like, ‘You know what? We're two years out and it's time for it to happen.' So, I'm going to make it happen.

INSIDE: Where have you been working out, and where are you working out now?

HAMM: I was working out at UIC, in Chicago, and right now I've only back in Wisconsin a few days but I've been going into Swiss Turners and [Belarusian Olympian] Andrei Kan has been in there telling me what to do and I kinda' just say, ‘OK.' [laughs] That's my job now.

He says, ‘All right Paul, 10 handstand push-ups,' and I say, ‘OK.'

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