Uchimura in 2011
|Born||January 3, 1989|
Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Japan
|Hometown||Isahaya, Nagasaki, Japan|
|Height||162 cm (5 ft 4 in)|
|Weight||52 kg (115 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) is a Japanese gymnast. He is a seven-time Olympic medalist (all-around, team and floor exercise), winning three golds and four silvers, and a twenty-one-time World medalist (all-around, team, floor, horizontal bar and parallel bars).
Uchimura was already considered by many in artistic gymnastics to be the greatest gymnast of all time after his success at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, but he subsequently solidified this position in the sport further by following up his performance in London with additional and uninterrupted wins at every major competition throughout the next Olympic cycle leading up to his individual all-around gold-medal victory at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He is known for being the first gymnast (male or female) to win every major all-around title in an entire single Olympic cycle, accomplishing this feat twice by winning six world (2009–2011 and 2013–2015) and two Olympic (2012 London Olympics and 2016 Rio Olympics) individual all-around titles. Uchimura is also the individual all-around silver medalist at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. He is known for delivering difficult and accurately executed routines. The International Gymnast Magazine had praised his skills as a "combination of tremendous difficulty, supreme consistency and extraordinary elegance of performance."
Early life and career
Uchimura was born in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, and began gymnastics at age 3 at his parents' sports club in Nagasaki Prefecture. His parents, Kazuhisa and Shuko Uchimura, were both competitive gymnasts. At age 15, he moved to Tokyo to train 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." In his first international competition, the 2005 International Junior Competition in Japan, 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 placed fourth on floor and sixth on high bar as well.
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 2½ 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 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". The winners were unanimously declared by a panel of judges, where both Uchimura and Porgras were each awarded a trophy, a Longines watch, and US$5,000. 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 in London and fell several times in qualifications, which put him in ninth place among the group of qualifiers for the individual all-around final. 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, Great Britain were to get the silver and Ukraine the bronze, but the appeal pushed Japan's points total up to secure the silver, which pushed Great Britain down to the 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 exercise event final with a score of 15.800, thanks to the tie-breaking procedure. It was automatically triggered due to his second highest combined score in the final tying the one by Denis Ablyazin of Russia, which resulted in Uchimura getting the highest difficulty score, 7.1, among all finalists.
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-around gold medal at the 2013 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Antwerp. Uchimura finished with 91.990 points, almost two points ahead of the next nearest competitor. Uchimura also won bronze medals on floor exercise (15.500) behind Japan's 17-year-old newcomer Kenzō Shirai (16.000) and Jacob Dalton of the United States (15.600), and the horizontal bar (15.633) behind Epke Zonderland of the Netherlands (16.000) and Fabian Hambüchen of Germany (15.933), as well as a gold medal for parallel bars (15.666). His total of four individual medals is the highest number of medals Uchimura has earned at a single World Championships.
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 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. In the men's team all-around final, Uchimura anchored the Japanese team to win the gold medal with a score of 274.094, reclaiming the title for Japan for the first time since the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
Two days after the team final, Uchimura defended his individual all-around gold medal 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.
At the 2017 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Montreal, his world all-around champion streak that began in 2009 came to an end when he injured his ankle on his vault landing in qualification, forcing him to withdraw.
This led to his long win-streak at worlds and Olympics being unexpectedly broken for the only time since he started by winning the first of his six World Championships all-around title to begin that quad in 2009 and continued over two complete Olympic cycles (approximately 8 years) ending with him winning his second Olympic all-around title in 2016. This was also the first time in 9 years since before 2008 that he had not medalled, namely silver and/or gold medals, at one of the FIG's major competitions—the Olympics or World Championships.
Between October 25 and November 3, 2018, Uchimura competed at the 2018 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Doha but on a reduced schedule. During the team event final, he had helped team Japan secure the bronze medal behind team champion China and runner-up Russia by contributing scores to four apparatuses: pommel horse (14.133), rings (14.200), parallel bars (14.500) and high bar (14.400). Uchimura also qualified for the individual event final on the horizontal bar, winning the silver medal with a score of 14.800 behind 2012 Olympic high bar champion, Epke Zonderland of the Netherlands, who scored a 15.100.
Uchimura has won at least one medal in every world championships and Olympic Games since 2008 except in 2017 where he injured his left ankle after only finishing 3 out of 6 routines in the individual all-around qualifier at the 2017 World Championships, which abruptly ended his 8-year win streak in a two-full-Olympic-cycle reign as world and Olympic champion, and "withdrew" (WD) from the event. In his 2018 return, Uchimura had yet to fully regain his previous top form and winning ways in terms of fitness level and preparation. Also, his results at the 2018 World Championships reflected that as he competed a reduced schedule, and in only one individual event final, he did however contribute several routines to team Japan's final score, which won him bronze in team and silver in individual horizontal bar event finals. However, Uchimura's Olympic winning streak was similarly uncertain due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused postponement of the Games for a year.
|Year||Event||Team||All-Around||Floor Exercise||Pommel Horse||Still Rings||Vault||Parallel Bars||Horizontal Bar|
|2008||World Cup Final||N/A||N/A|
|World Championships||Did not qualify due to injury|
|Olympic Games||Did not proceed due to coronavirus|
At the 2012 Olympics in London, Uchimura's score should have qualified him for the individual parallel bars event final in fifth place, but he "did not compete" (DNC) in the final due to the strict “two per country” rule for individual event finals. Ahead of him in the final were the top two qualifiers: Japanese siblings, the Tanaka brothers. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Uchimura's qualification score also made him first reserve (R1) alternate in the individual parallel bars final, but he ended up not competing.
Uchimura married in autumn of 2012 and has two daughters, born in 2013 and 2015. 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." He eats just one meal a day and rather dislikes vegetables.
- List of multiple Olympic gold medalists at a single Games
- List of multiple Olympic medalists
- List of Olympic medal leaders in men's gymnastics
- CNN Japan 2015.10.23
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