Kohei Uchimura

Kohei Uchimura inspired by Olympic track and field legend, picks best gymnast of all time

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The world’s greatest gymnast, and perhaps the best of all time, gave a rare detailed interview with the BBC, discussing sports legends and his future, among other topics.

Japan’s Kohei Uchimura became the first gymnast — man or woman — to win four world all-around championships in Antwerp, Belgium, last week. Uchimura, 24, has won every world and Olympic all-around title since 2009.

It’s a run of dominance matched by few, if any, athletes in any sport across the world. Uchimura said he was inspired by another man who is in the middle of a dominating run.

“Usain Bolt,” Uchimura said with an interpreter on hand. “He comes across all cool and says, ‘I am going to be a legend,’ and then he goes out and actually does it. I really admire that.”

Asked if Uchimura thought of himself as a legend, he laughed.

“I can’t say that myself!” he told the BBC.

Uchimura’s place in gymnastics history is debatable. Sure, he is the greatest of his generation. But all time? There are other contenders. Uchimura is a student of the sport. Asked who the best of all time is, he answered 1990s Belarusian great Vitaly Scherbo. Scherbo is the only gymnast to win six gold medals at a single Games, doing so at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics for the Unified Team.

Scherbo owns 10 career Olympic medals and 23 career World Championship medals. Uchimura is well behind with five Olympic medals and 13 worlds medals.

“To win six gold medals at a single Games is something that just isn’t normally possible, regardless of how the rules may have changed in the meantime,” Uchimura said. “To complete each individual event so perfectly could not have been possible without a huge amount of training and really strong mental, psychological control.”

Uchimura also reflected on Japan’s team silver medal at the 2012 Olympics. He almost cost his team a spot on the podium with a clumsy dismount of the final event, pommel horse. A video review and a .7 of a point scoring bump saved Japan from a fourth-place failure.

“At the time, I had spent my entire career striving for gold medals and so my first reaction was that it didn’t really make much difference whether we ended up second or fourth,” he told the BBC. “However, when I thought about it properly, we had all worked so hard to get there and I felt very sorry that I had reacted that way. If my mistake had cost everyone else their medals, that responsibility would have weighed on very heavily.”

Uchimura said a team gold medal at the 2016 Olympics is his next goal. Japan has won silver at his two Olympic appearances in 2008 and 2012 after taking gold without him in 2004.

He has also said he wants to compete through the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, when he will be 31.

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Kara Goucher won’t race U.S. Olympic Trials, report says

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Kara Goucher ended her bid to make a third straight U.S. Olympic team, saying she won’t contest the 10,000m at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials on July 2, according to Competitor.com.

That likely means the end of Goucher’s Olympic career, as she is 37. In 2020, she will be older than any previous U.S. Olympic runner except Meb Keflezighi.

Goucher, the 2007 World Championships 10,000m bronze medalist, finished ninth and 10th in the 2008 Olympic 5000m and 10,000m. She took 11th in the 2012 Olympic marathon, making the London team after giving birth to boy Colt on Sept. 25, 2010.

She failed to make the Rio Olympic marathon team, taking fourth at the Olympic Trials on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles, where the top three secured Olympic berths.

Goucher said after racing Feb. 13 that she would contest the 10,000m at the Olympic Track and Field Trials on July 2, but her recovery hasn’t gone as well as hoped, she said, according to Competitor.com.

Goucher is instead expected to race a fall marathon.

MORE: Ethiopian legend not on Olympic marathon team

Claressa Shields sets U.S. boxing history with repeat World title

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Claressa Shields can make her case as the most decorated U.S. amateur boxer in history after repeating as World champion on Friday.

Shields beat the Netherlands’ Nouchka Fontijn via unanimous decision in the middleweight final in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Shields, who won gold at age 17 in women’s boxing’s debut at the London Olympics and took her first World title in 2014, became the first American to capture three combined global titles.

“I have never had these emotions before, and it was definitely overwhelming,” Shields said, according to USA Boxing. “This World Championships was different because I was coming in as the reigning World champion, not just the Olympic gold medalist. I had a standard to uphold, and that was to dominate everyone.”

Many great U.S. Olympic champion boxers, such as Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, fought before the World Championships debuted in 1974 (and Worlds switched from every four years to every other year starting in 1991).

Shields, of Flint, Mich., moved to 74-1 overall and has won 48 straight fights since her only loss to Great Britain’s Savannah Marshall at the May 2012 World Championships, according to USA Boxing.

Shields and Marshall were in line to face each other at the 2012 Olympics, 2014 Worlds and 2016 Worlds, but each time Marshall was eliminated one round before their potential rematch.

Shields will not fight again until the Rio Games in August, where she can become the first American boxer to earn gold at multiple Olympics.

MORE: Shields sick of hearing about Ronda Rousey

Corrections: An earlier version of this post had the wrong name of a British boxer. Her name is Savannah Marshall, not Sarah Marshall. Shields’ record was also updated from 73-1 via USA Boxing to 74-1 via USA Boxing.