|— Gymnast —|
Uchimura in 2011
|Alternative name(s)||King Kohei|
January 3, 1989 |
Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Japan
|Hometown||Isahaya, Nagasaki, Japan|
|Height||160 cm (5 ft 3 in)|
|Weight||55 kg (121 lb)|
|Discipline||Men's artistic gymnastics|
|Head coach(es)||Hiroyuki Kato|
|Assistant coach(es)||Yoshiaki Hatakeda, Koji Gushiken|
|Former coach(es)||Naoya Tsukahara|
Kōhei Uchimura (内村 航平 Uchimura Kōhei?, born January 3, 1989, in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture) is a Japanese artistic gymnast. He is a seven-time Olympic medalist (all-around, team, and floor exercise), winning three golds and four silvers, a 19-time World medalist (all-around, team, floor, high bar, and parallel bars) and is considered by many to be the greatest gymnast of all time. He is known for becoming the first gymnast (male or female) to win every major all-around title in a single Olympic cycle. He accomplished this feat twice by winning six world all around titles (2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015) and the 2012 Olympic and 2016 Olympic all-around titles. Uchimura is also 2008 Olympics All-Around silver medalist. He is also known for delivering difficult and accurately executed routines. His gymnastics skills were praised by International Gymnast Magazine as a "combination of tremendous difficulty, supreme consistency and extraordinary elegance of performance."
Early life and career
He began gymnastics at age 3, in Nagasaki Prefecture at his parents' sports club; his parents, Kazuhisa and Shuko Uchimura, were both competitive gymnasts. At age 15 he moved to Tokyo where he trained with Athens gold medalist Naoya Tsukahara. His younger sister Haruhi Uchimura is also a gymnast. Kōhei Uchimura stated of his beliefs, "I don’t believe in God. I never had lucky charms. All I believe in is practice." His first international competition was the 2005 International Junior Competition in Japan, where he competed outside the official competition.
Uchimura joined Japan's national team in 2007. He made his senior debut at the 2007 Paris World Cup in March, a major international event. Here he won bronze on vault and placed ninth on floor. In August, he won team gold and 1st on floor and 3rd on vault at the 2007 Summer Universiade in Bangkok. At Japan's national championships in October, he placed 7th in the all around. A month later, at the international "Good Luck Beijing" event, he won silver with the Japanese team and placed 7th on floor exercise.
Later that summer, he was selected to represent Japan at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing as a member of the national team. At the Olympics, he contributed to the team silver by competing on floor, vault, parallel bars, and high bar. He qualified for the all-around final, where he won the silver medal. His 2nd place win behind China's Yang Wei gave Japan its first Olympic medal in the event in 24 years. He obtained the highest mark of that meet on the floor 15.825 (double Arabian piked half out, triple twist dismount) and had a spectacular high bar routine (Kolman, piked Kovacs). He also qualified through to the floor final, where he placed fifth.
At the Japanese national championships that year, the 19-year-old Uchimura racked up the highest scores on floor exercise and pommel horse en route to winning his first national all around title. He was the first teenager in 12 years to win the Japanese men's national title.
In October 2009, Uchimura competed at the 2009 World Championships. Here, he dominated both the qualifications and the all around final. He won the all around title by a margin of 2.575 points ahead of Daniel Keatings, marking top scores for floor, rings, vault, and horizontal bar. Uchimura also placed fourth on floor and sixth on high bar. He appeared on the cover of the December 2009 number of the International Gymnastics Magazine which was entitled "Uchimura rules".
In October 2010, Uchimura headed to the 2010 World Championships again as a member of the Japanese national team. As in the previous year, he dominated the qualifications and the all around final, winning his second consecutive all around title by a margin of 2.251 points ahead of Philipp Boy. During the all around final he had the highest score of the day on floor and the highest execution mark (9.666) for a Yurchenko 21⁄2 twists on vault. He also contributed to Japan's team silver medal by competing the team final on all events except still rings. He qualified for two event finals, winning silver on floor and bronze on parallel bars.
On October 14, 2011, Uchimura won the all-around final for the 3rd time at the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo, Japan. With a score of 93.631 points, Uchimura won by a margin of 3.101 points, roughly the same margin that separated 2nd and 14th place. Not only is he the first male gymnast to win three all-around titles, but he is also the first gymnast, male or female, to win three consecutive all-around titles. During the all around final, Uchimura recorded the highest score on four of the six events: floor exercise, still rings, parallel bars, and pommel horse (he tied for the highest score on pommel horse). Uchimura also qualified for five of the six individual apparatus finals (all except vault). He won his first world championship event gold medal on floor exercise as well as a bronze medal on high bar and the silver medal with the Japanese team.
At the 2011 Worlds, Uchimura also won the Longines Prize for Elegance along with Romania's Ana Porgras. The prize is given at each world championships to the male and female gymnasts who demonstrate "the most remarkable elegance". Unanimously declared the winners by a panel of judges, Uchimura and Porgras were each awarded a trophy, Longines watch, and $5,000 USD. Uchimura was especially pleased to win this award, since he collects watches.
In November 2011, Uchimura won 4 gold medals at the 65th Japanese Championships. Besides the all-around title, he also picked up titles on half of the apparatuses: floor exercise, pommel horse, and high bar.
Uchimura competed in the London 2012 Olympics and had a rocky performance in the Qualifications with several falls, eventually putting him in ninth place among the group of qualifiers for the all-around. In the men's team gymnastics final, Uchimura fell from the pommel horse during his dismount. The Japanese coaches appealed the scoring on this performance as he still landed on his feet and felt it should have counted as a full dismount, albeit with a large penalty. Before the appeal, Britain were to get silver and Ukraine bronze, but the appeal pushed Japan's points total up to get the silver and pushing Britain down to bronze. In the men's all around final, Uchimura dominated the competition and won the gold medal with a score of 92.690. He also won the silver medal in the men's floor routine with a score of 15.8.
During qualifications Uchimura dominated, garnering an all-around total of 91.924 (which was 2.392 points ahead of the closest competitor). He qualified for the Floor Exercise finals in third place with a 15.333, first for the Parallel Bars final with 15.400 and third in the Horizontal Bar final with a 15.658. He qualified as a reserve for the Pommel Horse final with a 15.133.
Uchimura won a record fourth consecutive all-round world championship at Antwerp. Uchimura finished with 91.990 points, almost two points ahead of the next nearest competitor. Uchimura also won a bronze medal for the floor exercise (15.500), gold for parallel bars (15.666), and bronze for horizontal bar (15.633). The total of 4 individual medals is the highest number of medals Uchimura has earned from a single World Championship.
On October 9, 2014, Uchimura once again made history, winning a record fifth consecutive all around world championship at Nanning. He totaled 91.965 points, 1.492 points above Great Britain’s Max Whitlock to capture the title.
On October 30, 2015, Uchimura won his record sixth world gymnastics championship title. Uchimura posted a total of 92.332, more than 1.6 points ahead of Cuban teenager Manrique Larduet and Deng Shudi of China.
Uchimura started off on the floor with 15.733, to lead Deng by 0.600 after the first rotation. Then, on the pommel horse he scored 15.100. He added 14.933 on rings, 15.633 on the vault, scored 15.833 on the parallel bars and finished off on the high bar with 15.100, an apparatus he had taken a fall on just a few days before in the team competition.
Uchimura competed in the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics. In the men's team all-around final, Uchimura anchored the Japan team to win the gold medal with a score of 274.094, reclaiming the title for Japan for the first time since the Athens 2004 Olympics. Two days after the team final, Uchimura defended his individual all-around gold with a score of 92.365, becoming the first gymnast in 44 years to win back-to-back individual all-around golds on the Olympic stage.
Uchimura married in Autumn of 2012 and has two daughters, born in 2013 and 2015. When asked if he would teach them gymnastics he replied "If they were boys I think I probably would... but I don't understand women's gymnastics and I think it's much more severe."
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