Kohei Uchimura

Kohei Uchimura Biography.com

Athlete(1989–)
Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura claimed gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and became the first in the sport to win four world all-around championships.

Synopsis

Born in Japan in 1989, Kohei Uchimura began his gymnastics training at age three. He won his first world championship in 2009, and in 2012 he became Japan's first Olympic gold medalist in the all-around event since 1984. After winning a record sixth world title in 2015, Uchimura claimed gold once again at the 2016 Summer Games in the men's team all-around final and the individual all-around competition.

Early Years

Kohei Uchimura was born on January 3, 1989, in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, Japan. His dad, Kazuhisa, and mom, Shuko, both gymnasts, opened a gym near their home, and Uchimura began training in the sport at age three.

Seeking a greater competitive edge, Uchimura left home at age 15 to train with Olympic gold medalist Naoya Tsukahara. Two years later, he enrolled at Nippon Sport Science University.

'Superman' Takes Off

Named to Japan's national gymnastics team, Kohei Uchimura enjoyed an impressive senior debut by winning a bronze medal at the 2007 World Cup. The following summer, he entered the international spotlight with his performance at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, earning silver medals both for his individual effort in the men's all-around competition and for Japan's showing in the team event.

On the heels of his Olympic breakout, Uchimura ascended to a point where he was all but unbeatable in major competition. He won his first national title in the all-around in 2008, and the following year he claimed gold at the world championships. In 2011, he became the first competitor of either gender to earn three consecutive world titles. Fans and competitors alike marveled at his breathtaking grace and precision, his dominating performances and muscular physique earning him the nickname "Superman."

Saddled with sky-high expectations, Uchimura didn't disappoint at the 2012 London Olympics, becoming Japan's first all-around gold medalist since Koji Gushiken in 1984. He did commit a rare error on the pommel horse in the team event, nearly costing his country a medal, though Japan wound up earning silver.

Since then, Uchimura has cemented the widely held view that he is the greatest men's gymnast of all time. He won a staggering sixth consecutive world championship in 2015, and the following spring he grabbed his ninth consecutive national title. Uchimura reclaimed his title, winning gold in the men's individual all-around gymnastics final at the 2016 Summer Olympics, edging out Ukraine's Oleg Verniaiev and Great Britain's Max Whitlock, who won silver and bronze, respectively. He also led the Japanese team to win gold in the men's gymnastics group competition.

Uchimura has expressed hope that he can still perform at a high level when Tokyo hosts the Summer Games in 2020.

Personal

The name Kohei is often translated to "peaceful flight," and Uchimura has said it specifically refers to a child who grows up to be great and crosses the Pacific Ocean. He has lived up to that label and become an icon in a gymnastics-crazy country, his face a staple on television, magazine covers and even a 777 airliner.

A private man outside of the competitive arena, Uchimura has managed to keep his family out of the media spotlight. He married in 2012 and became a father the following year.

Fittingly, the man nicknamed Superman has expressed a love for comics. He also collects watches as a major hobby.

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