Posts Tagged ‘Kohei Uchimura’

12 to watch in 2009 — a recap

January 8, 2009

Japans Kohei Uchimura is likely to be very successful in 2009.

Japan's Kohei Uchimura is likely to be very successful in 2009.

Posted late last month and early into this one, here are my picks for who will make waves in 2009:

    Sabrina Gill, Canada
    Kohei Uchimura, Japan
    Jeffery Wammes and Epke Zonderland, Netherlands
    Viktoria Komova, Russia
    Fabian Hambuchen, Germany
    Larissa Iordache, Romania
    Samantha Shapiro and Jordyn Wieber, USA
    Alexy Bilozerchev, USA
    Tatiana Nabieva, Russia
    Nathan Gafuik, Canada
    Cui Jie, China
    Benoit Caranobe, France

Honorable mentions: Peng-Peng Lee and Charlotte Mackie, Canada; Becky Downie, Great Britain; Koko Tsurumi, Japan; Paola Galente, Italy, Ksenia Semyonova, Aliya Mustafina and Nailia Mustafina,  Russia; Sergei Khorokhordin, Russia; Alexander Vorobyov, Ukraine; Stephen Legendre, USA; Thomas Bouhail, France; Zou Kai, China; Louis Smith, Great Britain. Good luck to all in 2009.

12 days of up-and-coming gymnasts, day two

December 24, 2008

Kohei Uchimura/UK Eurosport

Kohei Uchimura/UK Eurosport


Kohei Uchimura, Japan: If he stays healthy, I’m betting the Olympic silver medalist is the 2009 World all-around champion. See his picture in the dictionary under “complete package gymnast.”

This one is a no-brainer. Barring career-ending injury, this guy’s going to be a star. He’s already a star. He’s going to become a bigger one. And he’s not even 20.

Sorely needed right now in Japan, too, given the retirements of longstanding Japanese stars Hiroyuki Tomita and Takehiro Kashima.

Kohei’s sister, Haruchi Uchimura, is also a gymnast.

Time Magazine’s take:

If he wasn’t on the trampoline at home, he was doing long jumps into the sand pit at school. Uchimura trained with Athens gold medalist Naoya Tsukahara. When asked what attracts him to gymnastics, Uchimura has said he simply “likes twisting and turning.” His renowned coach, Koji Gushiken, says Uchimura excels at floor and vault due to his quick turning speed and sense of positioning, which helped him to win a gold medal in floor as a freshman at the World Student Games.

What struck me most during the Olympic Games was Uchimura’s humility, the way he bowed to the judges before and after vaulting during the Olympic all-around. Deeply respectful, and thoroughly respectable.

Kohei Uchimura, 2008 Olympic Games Event Finals, Floor Exercise:

Mitsuo Tsukahara on Kohei Uchimura: ‘Sooner or later, Uchimura will have his era, not only in Japan, but also in the world…” — via Hiroyuki & Kohei Fan Cafe

Apparently he hates vegetables and doesn’t have a girlfriend. One internet source says his parents own a gym in Nagasaki and young Kohei got his start bouncing on the gym’s trampoline. As his star rises, so will his public profile.

Hiroyuki Tomita plans to retire

November 10, 2008
Hiroyuki Tomita brought Japanese gymnastics back to the top.

Hiroyuki Tomita brought Japanese gymnastics back to the top.

Via Gymnastics Coaching. 2005 World Champion Hiroyuki Tomita was the undisputed leader of the resurgent Japanese men in 2004 and 2008. More than that, he often showed a personal courage that transcended competition.

Examples that come immediately to mind were his performance during the all-around final in Beijing where he continued, obviously in pain, after the scariest rings fall I’ve ever seen. Tomita wasn’t initially one of the two Japanese men to advance to the all-around final — teammate Koki Sakamoto, fifth in team prelims (Tomita was sixth) withdrew to make way for him — and he must have felt enormous pressure to do well.

Tomita displayed a similar attitude in the all-around final at the 2007 World Championships, where he struggled with fatigue after competing in the team final the day before to give the best of himself on every event, even after he had been eliminated from medal contention. This in comparison to Russian Maxim Deviatovsky, who many said gave up at the same competition once hope of a medal faded.

Like retiring teammate Takehiro Kashima, another stalwart of a great Japanese team, Tomita plans to coach. Both men leave the team in the young, extremely talented hands of newly-crowned national champion Kohei Uchimura.

One of Tomita’s finest moments was rising to the pressure during the 2004 Olympic team finals on the team’s last event and nailing a performance that gave Japan its first Olympic gold in gymnastics since 1984.

Hiroyuki Tomita, 2004 Athens Olympics Team Finals, High Bar:

10 things that should have happened during the Olympics…

October 7, 2008
Nastia Liukin was fabulous in Beijing -- as it should have been.

Nastia Liukin was fabulous in Beijing -- as it should have been.

…and did.

1. Nastia Liukin should have won the women’s all-around. With a highly respectful nod to 2007 World Champion Shawn Johnson, only Nastia combined the balletic artistry that makes gymnastics a truly special sport with the difficulty that makes people say wow. Not only that, she stuck almost all her critical landings during the all-around final — on vault, off beam and on that tricky front-full, front double full first pass on floor.

Liukin’s performance in that all-around final was a throwback to the “perfectionist” gymnastics of old — and hopefully, an inspiration to the perfectionist gymnastics to come.

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Chinese Dominate Tianjin World Cup

May 16, 2008

Chinese floor specialist Zou Kai had a mistake on floor but won high bar at the Tianjin World Cup.Eight world cup golds. In a single competition. Out of 10 events. Goodness.

The Chinese are certainly putting on a display of strength leading up to Beijing. This week’s example is the World Cup, held in Tianjin, where the Chinese won everything, except men’s floor (that one went to Japan’s Kohei Uchimura and men’s vault, which was won by North Korea’s Ri Se Gwang.

The usual suspects won everything else. (Women’s vault, beam and floor went to Cheng Fei. Bars were won by Yang Yilin after teammate He Kexin withdrew from the competition, citing “exhaustion”. Li Xiaopeng won parallel bars, Xiao Qin won pommel horse, Zou Kai high bar, and Chen Yibing rings.

Youtube user Fanbutterfly has videos.

It’s a little deceptive, given the fairly weak field and the fact that the competition was held in China. Then again, Americans like me probably shouldn’t complain. It’s not like we don’t do the same thing every year.

(via International Gymnast Magazine)

Japanese Olympic teams announced

May 8, 2008

Japan's Mayu KurodaBarring injury, the Japanese men’s team competing for gold in Beijing will be Hiroyuki Tomita, Kohei Uchimura, Koki Sakamoto, Takehiro Kashima, Makoto Okiguchi, Takuya Nakase.

The women’s team, announced at the same time, is Kyoko Oshima, Miki Uemura, Yu Minobe, Koko Tsurumi, Yuko Shintake, Mayu Kuroda.

Japan is the first country I know of to announce its Olympic teams, although it’s been speculated that China’s women’s team will consist of Cheng Fei, Yang Yilin, He Kexin, Jiang Yuyuan and two others. The Japanese men were second to the Chinese by a sizeable margin at the 2007 World Championships. The Japanese women grabbed the 12th and final team berth to Beijing.

(Via International Gymnast Magazine Online)

Sixteen years later…

April 16, 2008

Here’s 1992 Chinese Olympian He Xuemei, trying to make the Japanese Olympic team in 2008.

He Xuemei, 2006 Japanese Championships:


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