Kohei Uchimura, Japanese gymnastics legend, qualifies for one last Olympics

Kohei Uchimura
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Kohei Uchimura, widely regarded as the greatest male gymnast in history, is going to a fourth and final Olympics, this time to focus on one event.

Uchimura, who won all eight Olympic and world all-around titles from 2009-16 and earned the nickname “King Kohei,” made Japan’s Olympic team in individual events only at a domestic competition on Sunday.

He qualified via tiebreaker. Uchimura, competing on high bar, and another gymnast, Hidenobu Yonekura, who was on vault, tied on qualifying points, but Uchimura got in via higher world ranking, according to Tokyo 2020.

“I thought I failed to qualify but then was told I’m going. I don’t think I deserve it,” Uchimura said, according to a Tokyo 2020 translation. “I apologized to Yonekura afterwards.”

Uchimura will not compete in the team event at an Olympics for the first time in his career.

He is eligible to go for the individual all-around, but he has said his focus is on high bar after fighting injuries throughout this Olympic cycle and missing the world championships in 2019 for the first time since 2007.

At 32, Uchimura will be the oldest Japanese Olympic gymnast since the other time the Games were held in Tokyo in 1964, according to Olympedia.org.

“I don’t feel that after today’s performance, I really deserve to be called ‘King,'” Uchimura said Sunday, according to a Reuters translation.

Russians Nikita Nagornyy and Artur Dalaloyan won the last two world all-around titles.

The Japanese roster for the Olympic men’s team event — one of the most coveted gold medals for the host nation — is Daiki Hashimoto, Kazuma Kaya, Wataru Tanigawa and Takeru Kitazono, all Olympic rookies.

Japan took team bronze at the last two world championships behind Russia and China.

“It was really hard for me, as such an old man, to perform after the new generation,” Uchimura said, referring to his younger countrymen, according to Reuters. “I may not be part of the all-around team effort, but there’s still things I can contribute due to my experience.”

Kenzo Shirai, the second star of Japan’s Rio Olympic champion team, did not make the roster for Tokyo. Shirai, 24, owns world titles on floor exercise and vault and was the last Japanese man to earn a world championships all-around medal, bronze in 2017. He has been hampered by back and ankle injuries, according to Japanese media.

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Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time


Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

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Kaillie Humphries begins trek to 2026 Winter Olympics with monobob World Cup win

Kaillie Humphries

Kaillie Humphries is off to a strong start to a four-year cycle that she hopes ends with her breaking the record as the oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

Humphries, the women’s record holder with three Olympic bobsled titles, earned her first World Cup victory since February’s Winter Games, taking a monobob in Park City, Utah, on Friday.

Humphries, the first Olympic monobob champion, prevailed by .31 of a second over German Lisa Buckwitz combining times from two runs at the 2002 Olympic track.

Humphries has said since February’s Olympics that she planned to take time off in this four-year cycle to start a family, then return in time for the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Games. Humphries, who can become the first female Olympic bobsledder in her 40s, shared her experiences with IVF in the offseason on her social media.

“We’ve pushed pause so that I could go and compete this season, maintain my world ranking to be able to still work towards my 2026 goals, and we’ll go back in March to do the implantation of the embryos that we did retrieve,” she said, according to TeamUSA.org.

The next Games come 20 years after her first Olympic experience in Italy, which was a sad one. Humphries, then a bobsled push athlete, was part of the Canadian delegation at the 2006 Torino Games, marched at the Opening Ceremony and had her parents flown in to cheer her on.

But four days before the competition, Humphries learned she was not chosen for either of the two Canadian push athlete spots. She vowed on the flight home to put her future Olympic destiny in her own hands by becoming a driver.

She has since become the greatest female driver in history — Olympic golds in 2010, 2014 and 2022, plus five world championships.

Her longtime rival, five-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor, plans to return to competition from her second childbirth later in this Olympic cycle and can also break the record of oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

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