Olympic gold medalist

Paul Hamm's

recovery from hand surgery is being accelerated so he will be able to contend for a medal at the Beijing Games.

"I'm not getting him ready just to go," Dr. Lawrence Lubbers said yesterday. "I want to see a medal. And I want it around his neck."

Lubbers repaired the broken fourth metacarpal in Hamm's right hand Tuesday, inserting a thin plate and nine screws to return the bone to its original alignment. The surgery at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, went "very well," Lubbers said, and the gymnast could be doing resistance exercises within a week.

Hamm hopes to be back on gymnastics equipment in 5 weeks; the men's competition in Beijing starts Aug. 9, about 10 1/2 weeks from now.

Hamm will begin physical therapy today with range-of-motion exercises.

In other Olympics news:

* Peru will bid to host the 2020 Olympics, pointing to its improved economy, foreign investment and decreasing poverty rates.

* Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou, who served a 2-year ban after missing drug tests before the Athens Olympics, hopes to compete at the Beijing Games in the 400-meter relay.


* North Carolina A&T football player Chad Wiley has died from complications of heat illness after a workout.

* Suspended Howard University soccer coach Joseph Okoh has pleaded not guilty to a charge of using the Internet to solicit sex with a teenage girl.

Philly File

* Germantown High's Khalief Mason (point guard) and Jon Mason (power forward, no relation) have committed to Wesley College, in Delaware.

* North Catholic's Eric French, a three-time Catholic League champion, has committed to Edinboro for wrestling.

* Math, Civics and Sciences wing guard Eric Johnson, who last winter briefly held the city record for treys in one game with 11, has committed to play basketball at Pennsylvania College of Technology, in Williamsport.

Sport Stops

* Former tennis star Roscoe Tanner has been arraigned on felony theft charges in Knox County, Tenn. He is accused of writing a $72,263.43 check to a Knoxville Toyota dealership for two Highlanders and refusing to return the vehicles when the check bounced.

* Anthony Mundine beat fellow Australian Sam Soliman in a unanimous points decision to retain his World Boxing Association super middleweight title. *