||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2010)|
|— Gymnast —|
June 25, 1977 |
|Discipline||Men's artistic gymnastics|
Naoya Tsukahara (Japanese:塚原 直也 Tsukahara Naoya, born June 25, 1977) is a former Japanese artistic gymnast and 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist now coaching and competing for Australia. He is the son of the former Japanese gymnast, Mitsuo Tsukahara, who was also a multiple gold medalist in the Olympic Games during the 1960s and 1970s. He competed at the 1996, 2000, and 2004 Olympic games as well as many World Gymnastics Championships for Japan's team from 1996 until 2006. In 2009, he moved to Australia, gaining citizenship in 2012. He currently represents the Australian national gymnastics team, most recently competing at the 2013 World Gymnastics Championships.
Naoya participated at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. The Japanese team finished 10th in the team final. Individually, Naoya qualified into the all-around final and finished 12th in the final.
Although Naoya did not get any medal in the 1996 Olympics, he had been quite successful after that. In the 1997 World Championships, he won two bronze medals in all-around and on parallel bars. In the 1999 World Championships, he had pushed himself to a higher level of success, winning a silver in all-around and on parallel bars.
2000 Summer Olympics
Following his successes at the World Championships, Naoya eventually came to his second Olympic Games, the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. This time the Japanese gymnastics team was edged by the Russian team for a bronze medal. Individually, Naoya qualified 6th and 10th into the horizontal bar and all-around final respectively. He finally finished 18th in all-around final, and a fall in the horizontal bar final made him come last, with a score of 8.825.
After the 2000 Summer Olympics, Naoya could not regain his form of 2000. In addition, there were some fabulous gymnasts rose in Japan, including Hiroyuki Tomita, Isao Yoneda and Takehiro Kashima. Naoya's character in the national team changed from an all-around competitor into an anchor for the Japanese gymnastics team.
In the 2003 World Championships, Naoya made into the all-around and parallel bars final, finishing 7th in the all-around while his teammates, Hiroyuki Tomita, won a bronze in that event. Individually, Naoya placed 4th on his strongest event, parallel bars with a score of 9.675.
2004 Summer Olympics
Naoya made himself into the 2004 Summer Olympics held in Athens, Greece. The Japanese team showed strong performances and eventually won a team gold medal. Naoya placed 4th on floor exercise in prelim with a 9.725, the same score of his teammates, Isao Yoneda and Daisuke Nakano. However, the tie-breaker policy favoured his two teammates into the final. He did not qualified into the all-around final.
In Japan after the 2004 Summer Olympics
Naoya was 27 by the time that the Olympic Games in Athens finished, which is an age regarding 'old' for gymnastics. Nevertheless, he was still competing. He won a bronze medal with the team in the 2006 World Championships. Naoya could not make himself in the 2008 Summer Olympics but he was still competing as of Summer 2010.
In 2009, he moved to Australia, competing and winning at the 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2013 Australian National Gymnastics Championships, and winning 2nd place behind Joshua Jefferis in 2012.  In 2012, he gained Australian citizenship, allowing him to compete representing Australia in international competitions. However, the process was not completed in time for qualification to [2012 Olympic Games]. In 2013, he competed at the 2013 World Championships, narrowly missing the all-around finals, but premiering two new variations of the V-cross on still rings. FIG later announced the Li Ning 2 to V-cross as the "Tsukahara," named after the athlete.  This rare honor for a gymnast is one his father also experienced multiple times.