K. Uchimura Olympic career ends in Tokyo in 2020. After failing a tricky pirouetting part, the three-time Olympic champion will be eliminated from Saturday’s (24 July) men’s horizontal bar final.
K. Uchimura’s score of 13.866 put him far outside the top eight needed to advance, with a final subset of gymnasts scheduled to perform later in the day.
“Unfortunately, I was unable to put out my best effort at this competition. That’s just the way I feel, “After the fact, a translated statement from K. Uchimura can be found. During the previous three Olympic Games, I was able to do as well as I had in training, but not in this event.
At the time, “King Kohei” was the reigning Olympic all-around champion. Having qualified for Tokyo 2020 on his own rather than as a member of a team, he decided to compete only on the high bar.
The need for specialisation drove him to make that choice. Since her Olympic victory in Rio, K. Uchimura has been plagued by injuries. After an unprecedented six consecutive World Championships and two Olympic gold medals, his record-setting reign was cut short by an ankle injury sustained during qualifying at the 2017 World Championships.
He was then restricted to just four competitions in the 2018 Worlds and was unable to participate at all in the 2019 competition. With the Olympics coming to his country, however, he persevered, and by 2020 he reported to the public that he had achieved complete pain freedom.
It’s highly unlikely that someone who is already 32 will compete in their fifth Olympic Games.
“I can’t say. I’ll give it some thought when I go back to my lodging “his future as a competitor, he remarked. “And yet, I know what it’s like to be at rock bottom because I’ve been there before. Therefore, I am not quite as dissatisfied as I had feared.”
K. Uchimura’s sky-high scores at the Japanese Olympic trial events established him as a frontrunner for the high bar gold medal going into the Games. But in the podium training session on Wednesday, he appeared off, struggling with a stalder Rybalko, the pirouetting element that he would eventually crash out of on Saturday.
K. Uchimura, a familiar face from these Tokyo Games, had another rough outing in the one-touch warmup before today’s qualifying competition, falling on a double-twisting, double-back flip over the high bar.
Tensions rose among the few spectators after his fall at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre. It was the only part of the warmup he attempted, and when he failed, he decided not to try again.
A few minutes later, he was off to a great start with his routine, having easily caught the release move he had failed to do in the warm-up. But it was the stallion Rybalko who gave him trouble throughout training and ultimately doomed him.
Too near to the bar on the pirouette, he lost his grip and fell to the mat as he swung into the bottom, effectively eliminating his medal hopes at the Tokyo Olympics.
He got back on his horse and completed his act, then walked off the stage without showing much enthusiasm. K. Uchimura would have received loud cheers at any other Olympics. A standing ovation for one of the greatest male gymnasts of all time would have brought the crowd to its feet.
K. Uchimura, however, walked off the court alone and in solitude, a gloomy finish to the Games that only minutes earlier held so much hope, since supporters in Tokyo were absent due to the COVID-19 outbreak.