Not only is Kohei Uchimura‘s reign as world all-around champion finished, but he’s also no longer the Japanese national all-around champion.
Uchimura, the double Olympic all-around gold medalist and eight-time world-all around champ, finished third at the All-Japan Championships over the weekend.
“This gives me a sample of something I haven’t tasted up to this point,” Uchimura said, according to Kyodo News. “From now on, it’s no longer about results.”
The 29-year-old Uchimura, largely considered the greatest gymnast in history, won every Japanese all-around title from 2008 through 2017. He won every Olympic and world title from 2009 through 2016 before withdrawing during last fall’s worlds with an ankle injury.
“Win or lose, either way is fine,” Uchimura said Sunday, according to Kyodo. “I didn’t make it to the finals at the world championships because I got hurt. But now [with this loss] I’m finally released.”
Uchimura had the highest score on the second day of competition Sunday, but he could not overcome a deficit from falling off the pommel horse on the opening day Friday, where he had the fifth-best score.
He ended up a half-point behind Kakeru Tanigawa, who at 19 became Japan’s youngest male all-around champion, according to Kyodo. World all-around bronze medalist Kenzo Shirai was runner-up.
Uchimura’s days as an all-around gymnast are numbered. He said before the Rio Olympics that he may limit his focus to one or two events for the 2020 Tokyo Games.
“Staying in the national team will lead me to the Tokyo Olympics,” Uchimura said, according to Agence France-Presse. “I want to be a team member even if I am out of form.”
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