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Japanese gymnastics legend Uchimura retires at 33体操界のレジェンド、内村航平選手が現役引退

Kohei Uchimura reacts after competing in the horizontal bar event at the men’s team qualification during the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships at the Kitakyushu City Gymnasium in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, on Oct. 20, 2021.© AFP-JIJI
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Two-time Olympic gymnastics all-around champion Kohei Uchimura has retired aged 33, his management said Jan. 11, ending the career of one of the sport’s all-time greats.

Uchimura claimed gold at the 2012 and 2016 Games, won the Olympic team title with Japan in Rio and was crowned all-around world champion six times.

But he suffered disappointment in his Olympic swan song, falling off the horizontal bar and failing to reach the final at last year’s Tokyo Games.

Uchimura’s final competition was at the world championships last October in Kitakyushu, the city where he was born. He finished sixth in the horizontal bar final but was given a rapturous reception by the crowd after sticking a textbook landing from his dismount.

Revered in Japan, Uchimura was also a crowd favorite because of his easygoing personality and love of chocolate. At the Rio Games in 2016 he made headlines by racking up a ¥500,000 phone bill playing Pokemon Go.

But he was strictly business when it came to competition, winning every world and Olympic all-around title from 2009 to 2016. He became the first man in 44 years to top the individual all-around podium in back-to-back Olympics. (Kyodo)

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