Japanese gymnast Uchimura escapes major defeat at the hands of ‘Pokemon Go’

Ian MacNicol/Getty images

With the mobile game “Pokemon Go” being all the rage these days, it makes sense that some Olympians would look to do their best Ash Ketchum impersonation while in Rio de Janeiro. With the stress that can come with competing in an event held only once every four years, the occasional diversion from training and competition may not be a bad thing for some. However with the game not being completely supported in Brazil at this time, athletes have been frustrated by not being able to catch Pokemon while in Brazil.

And in the case of Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura, the game threatened to hand the favorite to win gold in the all-around competition a loss that goes far beyond simply not being able to play.

Thanks to international roaming charges, Uchimura ran up a bill of some 500,000 yen, which works out to $5,000. To say the least, that isn’t chump change and teammate Kenzo Shirai noted the impact that the bill had on Uchimura.  “He looked dead at the team meal that day,” Shirai said of Uchimura according to the Kyodo News.

The good news for Uchimura is that his service provider has given him a flat rate that works out to a charge 3,000 yen ($30) per day, thus avoiding having to pay the four-figure bill.

Uchimura has won a medal in the men’s all-around in each of the last two Olympics, winning silver in Beijing in 2008 and gold in London four years ago. Add in the fact that he’s won gold in the all-around in each of the last six World Championships, and he arrives in Rio as the clear favorite to once again win gold.

Uchimura may not have as much success catching Pokemon as he would have hoped for given the circumstances. But another gold medal in the all-around (he’s also looking to lead Japan to gold in the team competition) would cement his status as the greatest gymnast in the history of the sport in the eyes of many.

12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell

At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

Francesco Friedrich

A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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