Ghent, Belgium - The U.S. men's team made history today at the 2001 World Gymnastics Championships, earning the first ever men's silver medal for the United States.
"We did it," said veteran team leader Stephen McCain. "This just feels great. It's been a long road here and this is so inspiring. If I can say anything, this is for Blaine (Wilson) and John (Roethlisberger)."
The United States earned 166.845, behind gold medal winner Belarus with 169.622. Placing third was Ukraine with 165.483. Defending Olympic champion China placed fifth with 165.260 while defending Olympic silver medalist Russia placed seventh with 160.921.
The only other time that the U.S. men's team has won a World Championships medal was in 1979 in Fort Worth, Texas, where the team earned bronze.
"We had nothing to lose here," said Townsend, the 2001 U.S. National Champion. "We did really well under pressure today. The adrenaline and excitement was flowing. We just did our job and had an awesome time out there. It's pretty cool to make history here. I'm really proud of our team."
U.S. Team members include Raj Bhavsar (Houston, Texas/Ohio State University), Paul Hamm (Waukesha, Wis./Swiss Turners), Stephen McCain (Houston, Texas/USOTC), Brett McClure (Mill Creek, Wash./USOTC), Sean Townsend (Houston, Texas/Houston Gymnastics Academy) and Guard Young (Norman, Okla./University of Oklahoma).
"We just kept going and kept fighting and never gave up," said 2000 Olympian Hamm. "It's been so long since we've won a medal. We've been trying so hard since Sydney to come and be strong at these World Championships, and it really paid off for us today. It's been a hard year but we got it done."
"This is just awesome," said McClure. "I'm just happy to be here and a medal is icing on the cake. This is such great experience for all of us."
"This feels absolutely great," said Bhavsar. "This has been a superb year for me, winning NCAA's and then this. I love team meets. Just knowing that we made history here today is unbelievable. It hasn't even sunken in yet. Bring on the next one in 2003."
"I feel so lucky to be a part of all of this," said Young. "I was here to support the guys however I could. The coaching staff was awesome, and this whole thing started a long time ago, not today, not a week ago. We wanted a fresh start after the Olympics and the USA team really came together and this is the result of that hard work and dedication. We all worked in sync and let's hope this is the start of a dynasty."
Men's competition continues tomorrow when Townsend, McCain and Hamm will represent the U.S in the all-around. Event finals are Saturday and Sunday. Townsend will compete parallel bars and McCain will compete floor exercise.