Gymnastics: Japan's 'King Kohei' ready to extend his reign

Japan's gymnast Kohei Uchimura performs on the ring during the men's all-around final at the Gymnastics World Championships in Nanning on Oct 9, 2014. Japan's Kohei Uchimura promised not to halt his relentless quest for perfection, despite seali
Japan's gymnast Kohei Uchimura performs on the ring during the men's all-around final at the Gymnastics World Championships in Nanning on Oct 9, 2014. Japan's Kohei Uchimura promised not to halt his relentless quest for perfection, despite sealing an unprecedented fifth straight men's all-around gymnastics world title. -- PHOTO: AFP

NANNING (AFP) - Japan's Kohei Uchimura promised not to halt his relentless quest for perfection, despite sealing an unprecedented fifth straight men's all-around gymnastics world title.

The 25-year-old Olympic champion, labelled "not a human being" by his own coach, extended his record world title run with room to spare in Nanning, China.

He has not been beaten in the all-around since finishing runner-up to China's now-retired Yang Wei in his Olympic debut at Beijing 2008.

But Uchimura, who has vowed to keep going until Tokyo hosts the Summer Games in 2020, when he will be 31, insisted there was still room to improve.

"I have always competed by bearing in mind where I have made no mistakes," the 1.62m-tall gymnast told reporters late on Thursday.

"As a result, it was indeed my fifth straight victory. But I kind of feel I am still not there yet."

British Commonwealth Games all-around champion Max Whitlock finished runner-up, 1.492 points behind with 91.965. Japan's Yusuke Tanaka was third at 90.449.

"It's all about clean routines," 21-year-old Whitlock said when asked what it takes to beat Uchimura in the run-up to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

"But Kohei is quite over our head at the moment as you saw by the scores today."

Russia's David Belyavskiy, the 2013 European all-around champion who finished fifth, said: "As yet we do not have an answer to that question" when asked how to defeat Uchimura. "If we knew how to do it we would to it."

At Nanning's Guangxi Gymnasium, Uchimura was the only one among the 24 all-around finalists to score 15.000 or more on all six apparatuses.

It was a performance which silenced Chinese spectators, who had roared encouragement as China beat Japan by a mere 0.1 of a point in the men's team final two nights earlier.

On the floor, Uchimura landed clean on all tumbling passes, finishing with a difficult double back salto with two twists to score a table-topping 15.766 points.

"Other athletes fight by pushing themselves to the limit. But Kohei can fight by using a few tenths of his ability," his coach Hiroyuki Kato said before the competition.

"He is not a human being."

But Japanese men's team manager Hisashi Mizutori warned that Uchimura's rivals have been attempting routines with difficult elements which could produce more points.

Uchimura, who started gymnastics aged three at a gym run by his parents in Nagasaki, is the only gymnast, male or female, to win four or more world all-around titles and three or more in a row.

His stated ambition is to outshine Belarusian legend Vitaly Scherbo, who won six out of eight men's events for the commonwealth of former Soviet republics at the 1992 Olympics.

As well as reaping the greatest haul of gold medals won by any gymnast at a single Games, Scherbo also has 12 world titles to his name.

"My goal, indeed, is to perform in a way more beautiful than Scherbo's routines," Uchimura said.