Legendary gymnast Uchimura preparing to defend world title


Staff Writer

Kohei Uchimura will return to the spotlight after the Asian Games.

But for now, like any other fan or observer, he can keep a close eye on the results of the gymnastics competition, which began on Sunday in Incheon, South Korea.

While his Japanese teammates are competing in South Korea, Uchimura, who is skipping the 17th Asiad, has a few more weeks of preparation time before the 2014 World Artistic Gymnastic Championships begins on Oct. 3 in Nanning, China, at the Guangxi Sports Center Gymnasium.

Uchimura, 25, has captured the all-around title at the last four world championships (2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013). No other man has ever won four straight all-around world titles in the sport. What’s more, in 2012, he nabbed the gold in that event at the London Olympics.

He has been hailed by many as the greatest male gymnast of all time. And yet, he has an opportunity before autumn turns to winter to add another chapter to his bulging resume.

Last October, Uchimura, who grew up in Nagasaki Prefecture, commented on his own accomplishments while maintaining a humble attitude in a poignant interview with BBC Olympic reporter Ollie Williams.

“I have practiced so much for this,” Uchimura said at the time, “so I think it has genuinely been through my abilities that I have been able to practice to make it to this point — and not through luck.”

He added: “I don’t think my natural ability is so much different to the other gymnasts. It’s a matter of how I train, and how I think about my training. I also give a lot of thought to my routines. . . . I have used my head in my training as well.”

While Uchimura has excelled overseas, he’s also been the dominant force in domestic competitions, too. In May, he collected his seventh straight all-around title at nationals.

Family affair: Shuko Uchimura, Kohei’s mother, competed in the All Japan Senior Championships last week, according to published reports in Japan and abroad. It was reportedly her first gymnastics competition in nearly 30 years.

Emerging leadership: Ex-NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Anthony Williams, a former mayor of Washington, have recently joined Washington 2024, a group vying for the chance to stage the 2024 Summer Olympics.

The group currently has 17 board members, including Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner, according to The Associated Press. Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis is the vice chairman.

Three other U.S. cities are finalists to make a 2024 bid to the U.S. Olympic Committee: San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston. The USOC is scheduled to choose a finalist in 2015.

“When you think about it,” Russ Ramsey, the Washington 2024 chairman, was quoted as telling the Washington Post, “Washington is not just the nation’s capital but really an unbelievably international city — 184 languages (spoken), 176 embassies (and) over 20 percent of the region is foreign-born now. It’s an opportunity to really have a transformative event for the nation’s capital.”

As part of its effort to drum up support for the potential Olympic bid, Washington 2024 unveiled a slogan: “fostering greater unity.”

Middle East’s top advocate: Sheik Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah told Reuters this week that Doha and Dubai are suitable cities to stage the Olympics.

“We are capable in many cities in the Middle East to host an Olympics — Dubai is ready, Doha is ready,” the sheik, chief of the Association of National Olympic Committees, was quoted as saying in Incheon, South Korea.

“I know that not every city can host the Olympics. Only the main ones, and even they are always faced with difficulties. We can see this with Rio, even until now there are problems.”

Keeping the prices down: The 2016 Rio Organizing Committee plans to sell about 50 percent of its tickets for $30 (70 Brazilian reals) or cheaper, it was announced on Wednesday.

In all, around 7.5 million tickets will be for printed up for 717 event sessions in 28 sports and the opening and closing ceremonies, and some 3.8 million tickets are slated to be priced at $30 or less, and that includes some preliminary event tickets such as shooting for as low as $17 for some competitions.

A full price list is posted on the Rio 2016 website.

Ambitious project: The International Boxing Association (AIBA) on Wednesday opened the AIBA Boxing Academy, located near Amaty, Kazakhstan.

Future Olympians could gain valuable experience there, and 80 boxers are scheduled to compete there in an upcoming world tournament.

As described in a news release on the AIBA website, “The academy is an integrated training institute which embraces all aspects of the development of the sport of boxing and which will set global standards for boxing education, development and performance.”

“Since I became the president of AIBA in 2006 it has always been my dream to build the AIBA Boxing Academy,” said Wu Ching-kuo, the AIBA president in a statement. “Today this dream came true due to the hard work of AIBA and the Kazakhstan Boxing Federation. This academy is a unique sports complex in the world and I am proud that this place will become a home for all members of the AIBA family.”

Did you know?: Longtime NBA center Vlade Divac, president of Serbia’s National Olympic Committee, is the new players’ representative on FIBA’s Central Board, a key leadership council within basketball’s world governing body.