The closest any man came to beating Kohei Uchimura for Olympic or World all-around gold in the last five years happened at London 2012. There, German Marcel Nguyen finished second, 1.659 points behind the Japanese.
Nguyen won’t be able to challenge Uchimura at the World Championships for the second straight year. The 27-year-old suffered a torn ACL and will miss next month’s Worlds in Nanning, China. He also missed the 2013 World Championships during a reported break from competition.
Nguyen’s absence means that two of the four men who have finished second to Uchimura in the all-around over the last four Worlds and one Olympics will be present in Nanning. One is Brit Daniel Keatings (second in 2009). The other is Japan’s Ryohei Kato (second in 2013). Germany’s Philipp Boy (second in 2010 and 2011) has retired.
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Kato is considered one of Uchimura’s biggest threats in Nanning. Germany is sending veteran Fabian Hambuechen, who won World all-around silver in 2007 (before the Uchimura era) and bronze in 2013.
The U.S. sends two-time reigning P&G all-around champion Sam Mikulak, who took sixth in the all-around last year. Danell Leyva won Olympic all-around bronze in 2012 but hasn’t shown that kind of form since.
Uchimura is already the only men’s or women’s gymnast to win four World Championships all-around gold medals. He has 13 Worlds medals overall, well behind the all-time leader, Vitaly Scherbo, who won 23.
Uchimura has said he considers Scherbo the greatest gymnast of all time.