Kohei Uchimura is a three-time world all-around champion, won the silver in the all-around at the 2008 Olympics, and won gold at the 2012 Olympics
Uchimura competed at the 2008 Olympics at age 19, and was the all-around runner-up despite two falls on pommel horse. He told The Japan Times
, "I was feeling really down after falling on the pommel horse, so the silver medal in that situation made me very happy."
He also helped the Japanese team place second in the team competition. Though it wasn't his best meet overall, the Beijing Games gave a glimpse of how good Uchimura could be, and gave Japan its first Olympic all-around medal in more than 20 years.
Though the current Code of Points
favors high difficulty skills, Uchimura still manages to make his hardest tricks look almost simple, with incredible form and height. One example of this: Watch Uchimura's Kovacs
release moves on high bar (at :35 and :50). He kicks out of these double-backs over the bar, and keeps his legs together and toes pointed throughout.
On floor, another one of Uchimura's best events, he manages to keep his knees and ankles glued together throughout most of his difficult twisting -- something that many gymnasts can't do well. (Watch Uchimura on floor.)
Uchimura told International Gymnast magazine, “I think beautiful performances can make people -- people who don’t even know gymnastics very well -- be moved and say ‘Wow.' I think the performance that touches people’s hearts is beautiful. So I want to show such a performance.”
Uchimura won the 2012 Olympic all-around title by more than 1.500, despite a fall on floor. He also helped his team to the silver medal, and won an individual silver on floor in event finals. Though he was off his game for some of the Olympic competition (he had multiple mistakes in prelims), he was still good enough to take home three medals, including the most coveted one in the sport: the Olympic all-around gold.
One of the Best Ever:
With two Olympic all-around medals and three consecutive world all-around titles (the third, in 2011, won by more than three points), many have asked if Uchimura will be the best male gymnast ever, and put him in the same league as past superstars like Nikolai Andrianov, Vitaly Scherbo
, and Yang Wei
When asked if he thought he was one of the best ever after his 2011 worlds performance, Uchimura told the Associated Press, "That's what everyone will talk about, but I don't think about that." Uchimura also has said that he thinks Scherbo is the best gymnast of all time.
Kohei Uchimura was born January 3, 1989 in Nagasaki, Japan, to Kazuhisa and Shuko Uchimura. His father Kazuhisa was a gymnast, and Uchimura started his career at the gym his parents own. His younger sister Haruhi is also currently a gymnast. (Watch Haruhi Uchimura on beam
Kohei Uchimura now lives and trains in Tokyo, at Nippon Sport Science University. He is coached by Yoshiaki Hatakeda, an Olympian in 1992 and 1996.
Uchimura told International Gymnast magazine that he was named Kohei because, "What I was told is Hei is from TaiHeiYou (Pacific Ocean), and Kou means crossing, so [my parents] wanted me to be a great child that can cross the Pacific Ocean."
Uchimura's height is listed at 5 ft. 3 in.; his weight at 116 lbs.
- 2012 Olympic Games: 2nd team; 1st all-around; 2nd floor
- 2011 World Championships: 2nd team; 1st all-around; 1st floor; 3rd high bar
- 2010 World Championships: 2nd team; 1st all-around; 2nd floor; 3rd parallel bars
- 2009 World Championships: 1st all-around
- 2008 Olympic Games: 2nd team; 2nd all-around