Kohei Uchimura victorious in gymnastics’ return in Tokyo

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An untraditional gymnastics meet produced familiar top-line results: Kohei Uchimura leading a victorious team and hitting a fist-pumping high bar routine.

In a mixed-gender team event in Tokyo dubbed the Friendship and Solidarity Competition, Uchimura’s “Solidarity” team of 15 gymnasts beat “Friendship” by 2.3 points. Full results are here.

The meet blended 30 elites from the world’s dominant gymnastics nations — the U.S., China, Japan and Russia — in the closest thing to a return to international gymnastics in eight months.

Spectators, reportedly up to 2,000, were allowed inside Yoyogi National Gymnasium for one of the first international sports events held inside the 2021 Olympic host nation since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

They saw Uchimura, the two-time Olympic all-around champion plagued by injuries the last three years, post the top high bar score (15.2) of the 12 men who did routines.

Uchimura, 31, is bidding for a fourth and final Olympics as a high bar specialist. He was questionable to compete on Sunday after testing positive for the coronavirus on Oct. 28, but it was deemed a false positive after three subsequent negative tests.

Uchimura’s Solidarity team also included 2019 World all-around champion Nikita Nagornyy of Russia and American women Shilese Jones and eMjae Frazier, who each did vault and balance beam.

Yul Moldauer and Shane Wiskus, two members of the U.S.’ 2019 World Championships team, competed for the Friendship team, which was headlined by 2018 World all-around champion Artur Dalaloyan and 2019 World bronze medalist Angelina Melnikova, both of Russia.

Simone Biles and the U.S.’ other top gymnasts are expected to return to competition in 2021.

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South Korea’s first gold medalist of 2018 PyeongChang Olympics to compete for China

Lim Hyo-Jun
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Lim Hyo-Jun, a short track speed skater who won South Korea’s first gold medal of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, has been cleared to skate for China and was reportedly named to the national team Monday.

Lim, who won the 1500m on the first day of medal competition at the PyeongChang Games, began the process of switching to China after a June 2019 incident where he pulled down a teammate’s trousers, leaving him standing, exposed, in front of female teammates.

Lim, the 2019 World overall champion, was banned from the team for a year and later found guilty of sexual harassment before the verdict was overturned on appeal.

It was reported in March 2021 that Lim was in the process of trying to gain Chinese nationality to compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics, but Lim was not cleared to switch by the International Skating Union until this July. His Chinese name is Lin Xiaojun.

Another star South Korean skater, triple 2006 Olympic gold medalist Ahn Hyun-Soo, switched to Russia after not making the 2010 Olympic team. He then won three golds for the host nation as Viktor Ahn at the 2014 Sochi Games.

China’s national team for the upcoming season reportedly does not include veterans Wu Dajing, the nation’s lone gold medalist across all sports at the 2018 Olympics, and Fan Kexin, a three-time Olympic medalist.

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Brigid Kosgei, world record holder, to miss London Marathon

Brigid Kosgei
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World record holder Brigid Kosgei withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon due to a right hamstring injury that has bothered her for the last month.

“My training has been up and down and not the way I would like to prepare to be in top condition,” was posted on Kosgei’s social media. “We’ve decided it’s best I withdraw from this year’s race and get further treatment on my injuries in order to enter 2023 stronger than ever.”

Kosgei, a 28-year-old Kenyan mother of twins, shattered the world record by 81 seconds at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. She clocked 2:14:04 to smash Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s record from 2003.

Since, Kosgei won the 2020 London Marathon, took silver at the Tokyo Olympics, placed fourth at the 2021 London Marathon and won this past March’s Tokyo Marathon in what was then the third-fastest time in history (2:16:02).

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa moved into the top three by winning the Berlin Marathon last Sunday in 2:15:37.

The London Marathon women’s field includes Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei, a winner in New York City (2019) and London (2021), and Yalemzerf Yehualaw, who was the Ethiopian record holder until Assefa won in Berlin.

The men’s field is headlined by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest male marathoner in history, and Brit Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic champion on the track.

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