Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura not only won a second consecutive Olympic all-around gold after sticking the landing of his high-flying, high-risk routine on the horizontal bar. His accomplishments in this area also made him, in the words of gymnastics icon Nadia Comaneci, the best male gymnast of all time.
Greatest Male Gymnast of All Time
Even though Uchimura had already won a historic hat-trick of global titles when Comaneci saw him win gold at London 2012, she still did not believe it was time to declare him the greatest.
Comaneci declared the matter to be settled when Uchimura won the next three global titles and became the first gymnast since compatriot Sawao Kato in 1972 to win back-to-back all-around Olympic golds.
The Romanian, who was formerly considered the greatest female gymnast of all time, proclaimed, “Uchimura is the greatest of all time.” Take a look at how much he’s accomplished throughout the years. No losses in their last eight major tournaments (including the Olympics and world championships). His legacy will be that.
Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev led the rankings from the third rotation and held a 0.901-point lead over the Japanese great heading into their final apparatus in a high-quality competition without falls and spills by the top contenders in Rio.
After a tense routine, “Supermura” was able to edge out the competition and earn the top spot by just 0.099 of a point. Comaneci declared this to be the greatest gymnastics competition in Olympic history. Forty years after scoring the first perfect 10 at the Olympics, the Romanian is still the sport’s most recognised champion.
For this reason, Uchimura’s high bar routine included some risky elements, and for her to perform so well under such intense pressure on the final equipment was truly remarkable. He landed safely, and if he had stumbled at all, he would have lost the gold and we would still be debating whether or not he was the greatest.
There were a number of other male gymnasts who, prior to Uchimura’s most recent victory, might have made the case that they were the greatest of all time.
Kato nearly won a hat trick of Olympic all-around gold medals in 1976, coming up short by a single point. And throughout the course of three Olympic competitions, he amassed a total of twelve medals, eight of them gold.
And then there was Soviet Union’s Nikolai Andrianov, who denied Kato a third all-around title and went on to win 15 Olympic medals overall, including seven golds, making him the most decorated male gymnast in Olympic history. As a final example, let’s look at Vitaly Scherbo, the 1992 Olympic all-around winner who won a whopping six gold medals in Barcelona.
But Uchimura Has Only Three Golds Among His Seven Medals From Three Olympics.
Uchimura may be little in stature, but he more than makes up for it in class and sophistication. He is like the Roger Federer of gymnastics, stunning the crowd with his incredible skill and grace every time he performs on an equipment.
Comaneci sums up by saying, “His gymnastics is incredible.” “When I study his execution, there are instances when I see no holes at all.”