Tokyo Olympics: Uchimura woe as Japanese gymnastics great misses out on final

By Sports Desk July 24, 2021

Japanese gymnastics great Kohei Uchimura dramatically tumbled out of Tokyo 2020 when he fell during qualifying for the horizontal bar final.

The home hope was bidding to add to his three Olympic gold medals but lost his grip during an elaborate part of his routine and slumped to the crash mat.

It meant his chances were over, despite Uchimura being able to get back on the apparatus, and the outcome left hosts Japan stunned. A sporting hero in his homeland, news of Uchimura's exit was instantly a top national news story.

Uchimura won all-around gold at London 2012 and Rio 2016, also taking team gold in Brazil five years ago, but his only event for the Tokyo Games was the horizontal bar.

His score of 13.866 put Uchimura well down on the scoreboard, in a lowly 18th place during the qualifying session, with only the top eight going through to the final.

The 32-year-old Uchimura has won seven Olympic medals in all, picking up four silvers to go with his gold haul, claiming two of those at Beijing in 2008 and two four years later in London.

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    Kuliak taped the letter 'Z' to his chest after winning bronze in the parallel bars final at the Apparatus World Cup in Doha, displaying it as he stood next to gold medallist Illia Kovtun from Ukraine.

    The Z has become a prominent symbol of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and has been painted on military vehicles and worn by Russian pro-war politicians.

    Kuliak was investigated by the Disciplinary Commission of the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation (GEF), which elected to disqualify him from the Apparatus World Cup, ordering him to return his bronze medal and his prize money.

    Announcing additional sanctions against Kuliak, a FIG statement said: "Mr Kuliak is not allowed to participate in any FIG-sanctioned event or competition organised by an affiliated FIG member federation for one year as of the date of this decision. 

    "If the protective measures keeping Russian athletes from competing are still in place on 17 May 2023, the ban shall continue and expire six months after the removal of said measures."

    Kuliak has 21 days to appeal against the decision.

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