Posts Tagged ‘Takehiro Kashima’

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:

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)