Kohei Uchimura: Rio likely final Olympics at my peak

Kohei Uchimura
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Olympic and world all-around champion Kohei Uchimura wants to compete at home in the 2020 Tokyo Games but acknowledged that he will likely see a dip in form before then.

“The Rio Olympics will probably be the last when I am at the top of my game,” Uchimura said in Japanese, according to an International Gymnastics Federation interview published Wednesday. “I want to be faultless.”

That response led an interviewer to ask Uchimura which event he would focus on if he became a specialist rather than an all-around gymnast after the Rio Games.

“The risk of injury increases with age,” Uchimura, 27, said. “One can carry on competing on the horizontal [high] bar for longer than the other apparatus. My technique is good, and I’m capable of scoring highly, so I would choose the horizontal bar.”

Uchimura is the reigning world champion on high bar.

In Rio, Uchimura can become the first gymnast in 44 years to repeat as Olympic all-around champion.

“The first time I went to the Olympics I felt a bit lost,” said Uchimura of Beijing 2008, where he earned all-around silver at 19. “I won a medal, but I was also lucky. … I was hopeful at the London Olympics, and although I wasn’t perfect, I won the gold medal. This third time, I am aiming for perfection. This is what will satisfy me, and if as a result I win a medal, then I will be happy.”

Yet Uchimura believes that target is unattainable.

“I will never achieve perfection as long as I practice gymnastics,” he said.

MORE: Uchimura leads historically decorated Japan Olympic team