Uchimura, 5 new Olympic champs headline gymnastics worlds
TOKYO(AP) — Kohei Uchimura will seek to find a measure of redemption at the world championships in his hometown this week. This could be the final competition for one of the most outstanding male gymnasts ever.
Stung by the disappointment of not qualifying for the horizontal bar final at the Tokyo Olympics, the 32-year-old Uchimura will be aiming to reclaim the world title on horizontal bar he last won in 2015.
The 50th artistic and gymnastics world championships began Monday in Kitakyushu. They will continue through Sunday. Thursday will see the first women’s all around medals.
Simone Biles of the United States and Sunisa Le of South Korea are not participating, but five new Olympic gold medalists, Daiki Hashimoto from Japan, Rebeca Andrade in Brazil, Shin Jea-hwan of South Korea, and Russians Angelina Melnikova, and Vladislava Urrazova, will be giving the event star power.
Uchimura has been a six-time champion in all sports and seven-time Olympic medalist. He didn’t want to see his career end with a fall from the Tokyo Games horizontal bar.
“I’m sure the word “revenge” will be mentioned,” Uchimura said to Japanese online sports website Sponichi Annex. “But to be in a position to host the event during the coronavirus epidemic, all I feel is appreciation. So I want to turn in a performance that is full of appreciation.”
Uchimura has been dealing with injuries in recent years and has said in the past that he wouldn’t have continued competing if Tokyo hadn’t hosted the Olympics.
Hashimoto, who at 19, was the youngest person to win the Olympic all around title at the Tokyo Olympics, will be his main opponent this week.
Hashimoto took the gold medal in the horizontal bar, after Uchimura’s failure. He is now the face of the sport here in Japan.
” It’s always an honour to compete against Kohei Uchimura at any type of competition,” Hashimoto stated. “Officially, we are colleagues, but I’m excited to compete against him in the world championships. This means that we will be competing for world No. 1.”
Hashimoto will be the clear favorite to take the men’s all-round title. Russia’s defending champion Nikita Nagornyy is not participating. Eighth-place Ahmet Onder from Turkey was the only man to finish within the Top 10 category in the Tokyo all around.
This opens up opportunities for young gymnasts like Ilia Kovtun from Ukraine, Sergei Naidin from Russia and Adem Asil in Turkey.
Andrade won gold in Tokyo’s women’s vault and silver in all-around. This week, she will only perform on three apparatus and will not compete for the all around title.
She had four years of ACL tears between 2015 & 2019..
” I don’t want be out of competition due to injury again,” Andrade stated. “So, I listen to what my body is telling me. I’m here, and I’ll be competing. Even though everybody loves the floor exercise in gymnastics, it isn’t all about that. I have three other apparatus and I will give my best.”
Andrade’s withdrawal, coupled with Mai Murakami’s decision to only compete in balance beam and floor exercise, leaves the woman’s all-around competition wide open.
There are potential title contenders in the women’s all-around competition. These include Melnikova, Tokyo 2020 Olympic bronze medalist, and Urazova, as well as newcomers Kayla diCello from the United States and Wei Xiaoyuan (China).
The unusual timing of Kitakyushu’s event — Kitakyushu marks the first ever gymnastics world championship held in an Olympic year — gives Tokyo Olympians the chance to build on their achievements while also giving newcomers the chance to win medals along the way to Paris 2024..
Twelve medals from around the world — seven for men, five for women — will be on display this week in Japan.
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