To protect his right shoulder and ankle, world and Olympic champion Kohei Uchimura says he may compete three events only at this weekend's Japanese championships in Tokyo.
Set to receive a national honor from the Japanese government, world and Olympic champion Kohei Uchimura says he may compete three events only at this weekend's national championships in Tokyo.
Uchimura, 23, said Thursday that pain in his right shoulder and ankle may keep him off floor exercise, still rings and parallel bars this weekend. The Japanese championships are divided into two competitions, with all-around taking place in the spring, and team and individal apparatus titles at stake in the fall. This past spring, Uchimura won his fifth consecutive all-around title at the Japanese championships.
Superstar Kohei Uchimura speaks to the press Thursday in Tokyo
Speaking at the pre-meet press conference, Uchimura said he felt it was not right to skip the competition entirely and disappoint the Japanese public.
"By competing in more than the Olympics, I want to give back to the people," said Uchimura, whose club, KONAMI, is the defending team champion.
Uchimura, the only male gymnast to win three world all-around crowns, said he neverethless needs to be smart as he prepares for another four years of competition leading to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
"It is good to save myself a little now, so the effect does not appear at the Olympic Games four years later," he said. "At the Olympics in four years, I want to be able to give my best performance."
Also on Thursday, the Japanese government announced Uchimura as one of the recipients of the Purple Ribbon of Honor. The Ribbon of Honor is one of Japan's highest awards, with different colors representing different fields of distinction.
The purple ribbon is awarded to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Japanese culture as innovators, scholars, scientists, artists and athletes. Previous gymnastics recipients include the legendary Mitsuo Tsukahara and the members of Japan's gold medal-winning men's team from the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
Uchimura will receive the Purple Ribbon this year along with famed singer Saori Yuki, 63. The gymnast said he was grateful but that he plans to bring more accolades to Japan.
"I want to give you a lot of awards in the future," he said. "I'm not satisifed with my career yet, and I want to work hard."
External Link: Japan Gymnastics Association