Former world all-around champion Hiroyuki Tomita leads the race for Japan's Olympic team with the top score on day one of the NHK Cup in Okayama City.
Japan will decide its men's and women's teams based on scores from the NHK Cup and the secondary Olympic trials, held April 12-13. Without exception, gymnasts must compete all events at both trials to be eligible for the 2008 Olympics (see box).
Despite a fall on floor exercise on a 2 1/2 twist, Tomita topped fellow 2004 Olympian Takehiro Kashima by nearly a full point.
"I was thinking too much about the triple twist later," Tomita said.
Tomita took a big step on vault as well, but was the high scorer on that event.
"On floor and vault, I'm really challenging myself. I'm glad if the audience can feel this challenging sprit," he said.
Kashima, the 2003 world champion on pommel horse, showed his continuing excellence on this event. After struggling with injuries for the past several years, he is close to clinching a second Olympic berth. The Japanese men won the gold medal in the team competition at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
2008 Japanese Olympic Selection Criteria
Three all-arounders, three specialists
1. Top three all-around (50% from the April trial + 100% NHK Cup)
2. Top three event specialists
a) event specialists must be in top 12 AA
b) Points are awarded differently on each event: FX, VT, PB, HB: 3 points for 1st, 2 for 2nd, 1 for 3rd; PH and SR: 4 points for 1st, 3 for 2nd, 2 for 3rd
c) calculate the points from all four days of the April trial and NHK Cup, with special criteria (d)
d)Priority given to:
(i)the gymnast who earns points on pommel horse or still rings
(ii)the gymnast who earns points on more than two events, including floor exercise
1. Top five all-around (50% from the April trial + 100% NHK Cup)
2. Top point holder of each events
1) pick up the gymnasts who are in top 12 AA in criteria No. 1
2) Points are same at all events
3) calculate the points from all four days at the April trials and NHK Cup, and follow the criteria below (4)
4) Priority is going to be given to the gymnast who earns points on two events or more. Among them, the top point earner is in. If there are no gymnasts who get points on two events or more, then another top point-getter is in.
"I think I did pretty well today, though I made a few small mistakes," he said. "I was a little bit nervous four years ago, but now I can concentrate my attention on my performances, on what I should do."
Kohei Uchimura, who won the secondary trials in April, looked disappointed after a fourth-place effort. He said his physical condition was not peak.
"I wasn't able to keep my power," said Uchimura, whose sister, Haruhi Uchimura, is ranked 15th. "I couldn't hold the grip at my left hand on pommel horse, and couldn't move to next element. Also I hit my leg on the Morisue on parallel bars. Tomorrow I want to do better with better physical condition."
Ranked 16th, two-time world all-around medalist Hisashi Mizutori is facing a critical situation. Mizutori, a 2004 Olympian, is struggling with an injury to his left arm and shoulder and suffered falls on pommel horse and high bar.
Considering the fact that Mizutori is all-arounder and not an event specialist, he will need to be in the top three all-around to qualify to the team.
Said Mizutori, who went to high school in Okayama, "I m sorry that I couldn't perform to the encouragement from the audience."
Mizutori intends to compete in the second day of qualification, although it's now almost impossible for him to go to Beijing. He is currently 4.950 points out of third place, and in still in pain.
In the women's competition, Kyoko Oshima leads Yu Minobe and Miki Uemura. Oshima finished fourth at the first trial in April.
Mai Yamagishi, fifth at the first trial, withdrew from the last event with a leg injury.
2008 NHK Cup/Japanese Olympic Trials
May 5, Okayama City
Men's NHK Cup, Day 1
1. Hiroyuki Tomita 91.450
2. Takehiro Kashima 90.500
3. Takuya Nakase 90.100
4. Kohei Uchimura 89.900
5. Makoto Okiguchi 89.850
6. Eiichi Sekiguchi 89.450
1. Hiroyuki Tomita 182.450
2. Kohei Uchimura 181.150
3. Takehiro Kashima 180.025
4. Koki Sakamoto 178.400
5. Shun Kuwahara 178.300
6. Kazuhito Tanaka 178.025
7. Takuya Nakase 177.975
8. Naoya Tsukahara 177.875
9. Kensuke Murata 177.850
10. Eiichi Sekiguchi 177.400
11. Makoto Okiguchi 177.250
12. Isao Yoneda 177.250
13. Yosuke Hoshi 177.025
14. Kyouichi Watanabe 176.100
15. Takehito Mori 175.800
16. Hisashi Mizutori 175.075
17. Shun Nishimura 173.950
18. Mitsuyasu Ota 172.800
Women's NHK Cup, Day 1
1. Kyoko Oshima 59.350
2. Yu Minobe 58.900
3. Miki Uemura 58.150
4. Koko Tsurumi 58.050
4. Yuko Shintake 58.050
6. Mayu Kuroda 57.550
Women's All-Around Rankings
1. Kyoko Oshima 117.075
2. Yu Minobe 117.075
3. Miki Uemura 116.600
4. Koko Tsurumi 116.450
5. Yuko Shintake 115.300
6. Mayu Kuroda 114.750
7. Momoko Ozawa 113.250
8. Keiko Mukumoto 112.925
9. Rie Tanaka 112.525
10. Setsubai Takaseki 111.600
11. Erica Lynn Danko* 110.900
12. Sayuri Minobe 110.275
13. Manami Ishizaka 109.500
14. Akiho Sato* 108.325
15. Haruhi Uchimura 108.200
16. Yuma Imanishi 108.200
17. Serina Takeuchi 106.700
18. Kana Yamawaki 105.925
19. Sakiko Okabe 105.675
20. Nanaho Hidaka* 105.400
21. Chinami Otaki 105.225
22. Tomomi Ejima 104.875
23. Shizuka Tozawa* 103.375
24. Mai Yamagishi** 98.850
* Juniors, not eligible for 2008 Olympic Games
** Withdrew with injury