6th crown but Kohei's not done

Kohei Uchimura was confident he had won a record sixth all-around title even before the judges awarded 15.100 points for his solid high bar routine.
Kohei Uchimura was confident he had won a record sixth all-around title even before the judges awarded 15.100 points for his solid high bar routine.PHOTO: REUTERS
Kohei Uchimura was confident he had won a record sixth all-around title even before the judges awarded 15.100 points for his solid high bar routine.
Kohei Uchimura was confident he had won a record sixth all-around title even before the judges awarded 15.100 points for his solid high bar routine.PHOTO: REUTERS

He doesn't consider himself as the best ever, and targets elusive Olympic team gold in Rio

GLASGOW • When Kohei Uchimura capped a high-flying horizontal bar routine with a perfect landing on Friday, he instantly held up six fingers to the crowd, confident that he had just won a record sixth all-around title at the World Gymnastics Championships.

The Japanese hero did not even bother to hang around for the judges' verdict to begin his celebrations, urging the crowd at the Hydro Arena with both his hands to cheer louder.

When his score of 15.100 flashed, it confirmed the victory and showed that his margin of success over surprise Cuban silver medallist Manrique Larduet was 1.634 points, after the Japanese amassed a combined 92.332 points across six apparatus.

China's Deng Shudi (90.099) fought back from eighth place at the halfway point of the competition to claim bronze - his country's first medal in the individual event since Yang Wei won the second of his golds in 2007.

"Winning today was totally different from my other victories because this is the first time I have won an all-around gold after winning the team title, so that was why I was so happy after the competition today," said Uchimura, who had helped Japan win a first team gold in 37 years on Wednesday.

NOT LEAVING IT TO CHANCE

I wanted to win the all-around title without any mistakes so I left out a few difficult elements today.

KOHEI UCHIMURA , who failed to break the 15-point mark only on the rings

Five of his programmes broke the 15-point mark, with the judges deeming his performance on the rings was not quite as good as the rest of his impressive bodywork.

But that was the only blemish for Uchimura. "I wanted to win the all-around title without any mistakes so I left out a few difficult elements today," he said. "I wanted to produce a perfect performance."

He has now bagged every Olympic and world all-around title since taking silver at the 2008 Beijing Games, a streak unmatched in gymnastics history. No other man or woman has won more than three world all-around titles. But the 26-year-old insisted that he is not the greatest gymnast of all-time.

That honour, he believes, belongs to Vitaly Scherbo.

The Belarusian legend won six out of the eight men's events for the Commonwealth of former Soviet republics at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics - the greatest haul of gold medals won by any gymnast at a single Games. Scherbo also has 12 world titles to his name.

"I'm first in this competition but I can't say I'm the best in the world even if I've won a lot of medals because this is something I can't decide," said Uchimura after picking up his 18th world medal and ninth gold. "I have seen many great gymnasts in history so I don't think I'm the best."

Uchimura could yet add to his medal collection - and not only because of today's high bar final.

With 10 months to go till the Rio Games, there remains one major title missing - Olympic team gold.

"If I make the national team next year, I would like to compete in six events for the team, and I don't want to have any mistake in any situation," he warned.

"We also have to think about Tokyo 2020 (Olympics), and about how we can win there."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 01, 2015, with the headline '6Th crown but Kohei's not done'. Print Edition | Subscribe