Although it has been obscured in later years by the scoring controversy over his gold medal, there's no denying Paul Hamm's resolve in the most crucial moments of the 2004 men's gymnastics individual all-around competition.
After a spectacular fall on the vault, Hamm stood 12th with just two rotations left. The podium was a long shot, much less Olympic gold.
Hope resurfaced after Hamm nailed his parallel bar routine. Perhaps Hamm could somehow manage a bronze.
Entering the final apparatus, NBC play-by-play announcer Al Trautwig set the stakes.
"If he could pull a medal out of this, it would be an amazing comeback."
It was an ambitious hypothetical, one Hamm would soon render into an understatement.
With a sterling 9.837 on the high bar, he shot past South Koreans Yang Tae-Young and Kim Dae-Eun, winning the all-around title by the smallest margin in Olympic history.
Later documentation would reveal that judges had misdiagnosed the difficulty of Yang's parallel bars routine. With the added points Yang, not Hamm, would have been champion.
The controversy opened a Pandora's box of added questions.
What if Hamm, who performed after Yang, had known Yang's true score? Would he have adjusted the difficulty of his routine? Would he or Yang have performed differently knowing the new stakes?
All that buzz, however, misses the point.
Hamm had pulled off the two greatest routines of his career mere moments after his most public and painful failure.
Gold medal or not, that right there deserves some love.