Gymnast: Kohei Uchimura

All About the King of Gymnastics

The 2009 world all-around champion, Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura, competes on high bar
Kohei Uchimura on high bar at the 2009 worlds. © Clive Rose; Getty Images

Kohei Uchimura is a five-time world all-around champion -- and in case that isn't enough, he also won the silver in the all-around at the 2008 Olympics, and gold at the 2012 Olympics.

The Best Male Gymnast Ever:

With two Olympic all-around medals and five consecutive world all-around titles (the fifth, at 2014 worlds, won by almost 1.500 points), many have asked if Uchimura is the top male gymnast of all time -- putting him in competition with past superstars like Nikolai Andrianov, Vitaly Scherbo, and Yang Wei.

When asked if he thought he was one of the best ever after his 2011 worlds performance, Uchimura told the Associated Press, "That's what everyone will talk about, but I don't think about that." Uchimura also said at that time that he thought Scherbo was the best gymnast of all time.

Three years later, however, after three more all-around crowns at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 worlds, most experts would now put him at the top of the list. His record is almost untouchable at this point.

Truly Artistic:

Though the current Code of Points favors high difficulty skills, Uchimura still manages to make his hardest tricks look almost simple, with incredible form and height. One example of this: Watch Uchimura's Kovacs release moves on high bar (at :35 and :50). He kicks out of these double-backs over the bar, and keeps his legs together and toes pointed throughout.

On floor, another one of Uchimura's best events, he manages to keep his knees and ankles glued together throughout most of his difficult twisting -- something that many gymnasts can't do well.

(Watch Uchimura on floor.)

Uchimura told International Gymnast magazine, “I think beautiful performances can make people -- people who don’t even know gymnastics very well -- be moved and say ‘Wow.' I think the performance that touches people’s hearts is beautiful. So I want to show such a performance.”

Beijing:

Uchimura competed at the 2008 Olympics at age 19, and was the all-around runner-up despite two falls on pommel horse -- also helping the Japanese team place second in the team competition. Though it wasn't his best meet overall, the Beijing Games gave a glimpse of how good Uchimura could be, and gave Japan its first Olympic all-around medal in more than 20 years.

London:

Uchimura won the 2012 Olympic all-around title by more than 1.500, even with a fall on floor. He also helped his team to the silver medal, and won an individual silver on floor in event finals. Though he was off his game for some of the Olympic competition -- with multiple mistakes in prelims -- he was still good enough to take home three medals, including the most coveted one in the sport: the Olympic all-around gold.

Cool Skills:

Uchimura has competed incredibly difficult moves, including a layout Kolman-tucked Kolman combination and a triple-twisting double tuck on floor. He has even trained a quad-twisting double tuck on floor!

Personal Life:

Kohei Uchimura was born January 3, 1989 in Nagasaki, Japan, to Kazuhisa and Shuko Uchimura. His father Kazuhisa was a gymnast, and Uchimura started his career at the gym his parents own.

His younger sister Haruhi is also currently a gymnast. (Watch Haruhi Uchimura on beam.)

Kohei Uchimura now lives and trains in Tokyo, at Nippon Sport Science University. He is coached by Yoshiaki Hatakeda, an Olympian in 1992 and 1996.

Uchimura told International Gymnast magazine that he was named Kohei because, "What I was told is Hei is from TaiHeiYou (Pacific Ocean), and Kou means crossing, so [my parents] wanted me to be a great child that can cross the Pacific Ocean."

Uchimura's height is listed at 5 ft. 3 in.; his weight at 116 lbs.

Gymnastics Results:

International:

  • 2014 World Championships: 2nd team; 1st all-around; 2nd high bar
  • 2013 World Championships: 1st all-around; 3rd floor; 1st parallel bars; 3rd high bar
  • 2012 Olympic Games: 2nd team; 1st all-around; 2nd floor
  • 2011 World Championships: 2nd team; 1st all-around; 1st floor; 3rd high bar
  • 2010 World Championships: 2nd team; 1st all-around; 2nd floor; 3rd parallel bars
  • 2009 World Championships: 1st all-around
  • 2008 Olympic Games: 2nd team; 2nd all-around