In more ways than one, Japan has for itself a one-of-a-kind gymnast in 24-year-old Kohei Uchimura. On Thursday night, the Japanese Olympic gold medalist captured an unprecedented 4th consecutive world all-around title at the artistic gymnastics World Championships held in Antwerp, Belgium. From beginning to end, there was a sense of inevitability to the proceedings, with Uchimura showing his class and the possibility that he may dominate the sport for a very long time.
Uchimura started his unstoppable rise towards another title with the best floor exercise of the six top qualifiers, and grew from strength to strength the rest of the way. He combined his undeniable strength, poise and elegance in every discipline, setting himself apart from all gymnasts and reinforcing his reputation as arguably the greatest in the history of the sport. “I always do my own things,” Uchimura said. “I don’t think about rivals.” Indeed, most people were in awe of his command of the gymnastic elements, and such was his mastery of them that what the other contestants did didn’t seem to matter. And still only 24, he can continue to dominate the sport for years to come. “I want to continue until Tokyo 2020,” he said of the Olympic Games that his nation will be hosting.
Uchimura seems to rise to the challenge at every meet he enters. According to experts and spectators alike, his gymnastics is exceptionally clean, and his skill shows in the ease that he does some of the hardest athletic feats human beings can do. Reporters have labeled his powers “extraterrestrial”, as he was interviewed by them media after his victory. The usually reserved Uchimura mostly answered questions softly and shyly with his eyes cast down, but seemed to find the comparison funny at least. “I am glad to hear that,” he said through a translator, replying to the label with a small laugh. His daughter, born in April, will be seven years old by the time the Tokyo Olympics roll in, and Uchimura said in conclusion that he hoped to compete when his daughter will be old enough to watch him and remember.