Uchimura craves team gold, not own record, at Rio

Wed Mar 2, 2016 12:22am EST
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By Elaine Lies and Irene Wang

TOKYO (Reuters) - Kohei Uchimura could become the first man in over 40 years to win back-to-back Olympic all-around titles in Rio but the Japanese gymnast says his first priority is team gold, not personal glory, at the Summer Games.

Uchimura won silver in the all-around at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 but was on top of the podium four years later in London.

At Glasgow last year, Uchimura won a record sixth world title and he heads to Rio heavily tipped to become the first winner of consecutive gold medals in the event since 1972 when compatriot Sawano Kato pulled off the feat in Munich.

Winning the team title at last year's world championships after a 37-year drought fulfilled one dream for Uchimura, but now he wants the same thing at the Olympics.

"I feel the individual all-around isn't something I should even think about until after the team event," Uchimura told Reuters after a recent training session in Tokyo.

"All I can think about is how much I want team gold. That's everything."

Japan took team gold at five successive Olympics from 1960 to 1976 but had to wait until Athens in 2004 to reach the top of the podium again.

In Beijing and London, they had played second fiddle to China, whose risky moves often outshine the more cautious Japanese approach.   Continued...

Olympic gold medal gymnast Kohei Uchimura takes part in a training session at the National Training Center in Tokyo, Japan, February 26, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai