Posts Tagged ‘Naoya Tsukahara’

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.