Kohei Uchimura – The New York Times

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TOKYO – Nearly everyone in the gymnastics arena at the Games – other gymnasts, coaches, arena staff and reporters – stopped what they were doing on Saturday to watch Japan’s Kohei Uchimura, who is considered one of the greatest male gymnasts ever, perform his high bar routine. .

At the start of their fourth Olympics, Uchimura, One of Japan’s most respected athletesHe spun around the bar and rose above it in his usual daring and dazzling fashion. But then, during a quick—perhaps too fast—intricately manual spin, his hands slipped and the audience gasped.

Uchimura fell, landed with a high slap on the mat and put an end to his home Olympic gold medal hopes. His fall during the men’s qualifying event was symbolic of how the Summer Games were going for Japan: a lot of hope and then a big disappointment. Uchimura did not qualify for the final.

At the 2016 Rio Games, she won it all to become the first male gymnast to hold an Olympic title in the event for 44 years. From 2009 to 2016, he did not lose any all-round at the world championships or the Olympics. Leading this edge, he won the all-around silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Uchimura, 32, has been at the top of the sport for more than a decade. But in these Games, he was only competing in the high bar, not as part of the Japan team. His Olympics – and most likely his outstanding career – are over.

After his fall, Uchimura punched several of his teammates and exited the arena, silently crossing a giant Olympic ring on the wall before disappearing under the stands.

He placed first in the Japan team competition in two of the three qualifying rounds. China finished second and Russia third, with all three teams separated by about a tenth of a point.

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