Kohei Uchimura reflects on career while looking ahead to March finale

Artistic gymnastics great Kohei Uchimura, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic men’s all-around gold medalist, looked back on his career with pride on Friday as he announced his impending retirement.

The 33-year-old, a six-time individual all-around world champion, said he will make one last appearance in a retirement event on March 12 at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, where he will give a demonstration on all six apparatus.

“It hasn’t really sunk in,” Uchimura said during a news conference. “I’m proud to have carried the Japanese flag for 16 of my 30-year career as a gymnast.”

Uchimura earned his fourth Olympic berth for the Tokyo Games last summer, but suffered a shock early exit as he focused solely on the horizontal bar following persistent shoulder problems.

He had already decided to call time on his career when he finished sixth in the final of the same apparatus at the world championships in October in Kitakyushu, the southwestern city where he was born.

“Things were getting too tough for me as I trained toward the worlds and I felt this might be my last,” he said regarding the decision.

“The result didn’t come my way but it was positive I could nail my landing and show the junior gymnasts what gymnastics is all about.”

Uchimura, the winner of a staggering 40 straight tournaments in all-around at home and abroad from 2008 through 2017, said he is looking forward to a finale in March unlike that of any other gymnast.

“I’ll shake my aching body up at the very end of my career,” he said. “I wanted to finish demonstrating on all six apparatuses.”

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