TOYOTA, AICHI PREF. – World floor exercise champion Kenzo Shirai pulled off a new technique Saturday, with the Japan Gymnastics Association set to apply for accreditation of what will likely be named the “Shirai 3” to the International Federation of Gymnastics.
The 19-year-old Shirai produced a double-backward somersault triple-twisting layout, ranked as a maximum-difficulty H-level move, to win the Toyota International Gymnastics Competition with 15.700 points, although he stumbled back a step and out of the line upon landing.
“It’ll be a present (for the effort if accredited),” said Shirai, who was comfortable executing a G-level Ri Jong Song, the unstretched version of the new technique, that helped him claim his second world championship in late October in Scotland.
“I got the height, doing it at a level I haven’t even managed before. It’ll be a pleasure to have the high-level skill being named after me,” said Shirai.
Kohei Uchimura, the London Olympic gold medalist and sixth straight individual all-around world champion, who missed the competition due to injury and watched on from the stand, gave Shirai a rave review.
“He crossed the line because he was doing it too well,” said Uchimura. “I saw his strength in nailing it. (The skill) fully brings out his potential.”
The new technique’s accreditation is to be discussed by the FIG’s technical committee next February but might not be granted as the Toyota International is not one of the FIG’s main competitions. The governing body asked the tournament’s chief judge in advance to record footage of the skill.
The move would be the fourth technique to bear Shirai’s name. The “Shirai” backward somersault with a quadruple-twist layout and “Shirai 2” forward somersault with a triple twist layout were both created in the floor exercise like the new maneuver, while both Shirai and South Korean Kim Hee Hoon were first to execute a triple-twist Yurchenko on the vault, recognized as the “Shirai-Kim.”
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5