Robots' Uchimura and Biles ready to roll

Tue Jul 26, 2016 9:13pm EDT
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By Pritha Sarkar

LONDON (Reuters) - The world's best gymnasts will be hoping the sweat and tears they have shed in training will provide them with the spark they need at the Olympics to pull the plug on two record-chasing champions who have been dubbed "robots".

Such has been the dominance of Japan's Kohei Uchimura and American Simone Biles over the four-year Olympic cycle that if they fail to win the all-around titles at the Rio Games, it will be considered one of the biggest shocks witnessed in the sport.

After collecting every Olympic and world all-around title since taking silver at the 2008 Beijing Games, King Kohei will be favorite to become the first man since compatriot Sawao Kato in 1972 to win successive Olympic all-around titles.

But the all-conquering gymnast, who has been immortalized in comic strips in his homeland and has an army of screaming teenybopper fans around the world, has his eyes firmly set on a medal he has yet to get his hands on -- the Olympic men's team gold.

The collective strength of China means that since 1994, Chinese men have won 10 of 12 world championship team titles and three of the five Olympic golds on offer.

Japan, who captured five straight Olympic golds from 1960 to 1976, did climb to the top of the podium in Athens in 2004 but that was during the pre-Uchimura era.

Since Uchimura's arrival on the world stage, Japan have had to make do with silver medals behind champions China in 2008 and 2012.

But having finally toppled China from their lofty perch at last year's world championships in Glasgow, Uchimura hopes he can now lead his band of Japanese brothers to Rio glory.   Continued...

FILE PHOTO - Japan's Kohei Uchimura reacts during the men's team final at the World Gymnastics Championships at the Hydro arena in Glasgow, Scotland, October 28, 2015. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File photo