close
No Image

Bangladeshi deportee stopped at airport attempt to re-enter the country

Olympics have the power to transform athletes

TOKYO: Japan’s Daiki Hashimoto is the good-natured farm boy from the Tokyo suburbs who is aiming to emulate gymnastics legend and countryman Kohei Uchimura by retaining his all-around Olympic title in Paris. Hashimoto became the youngest men’s all-around champion in Olympic history when he took gold aged 19 at the pandemic-postponed Tokyo Games three years ago.

He also triumphed in the horizontal bar event. Hashimoto’s success represented a changing of the guard after the long and imperious reign of Uchimura, who is widely regarded as one the sport’s all-time greats.

“King Kohei”, who retired in 2022, won successive all-around Olympic titles in 2012 and 2016 and was part of the Japan team that took gold at the Rio Games. Now Hashimoto has the chance to follow in his illustrious countryman’s footsteps despite struggling with a finger injury in the build-up to Paris.

“I think it’s looking good, but my finger still isn’t 100 percent so I can’t let my guard down,” Hashimoto told reporters after practicing with his Japan team-mates in late June. Hashimoto damaged a ligament in the middle finger of his right hand in May while practicing for his final competition before the Games.

He has said he expects to be up to speed when the gymnastics start in Paris on July 27. Hashimoto is the two-time all-around world champion and will start among the title favorites even if his preparations have been far from ideal.

He has the backing of Uchimura, who is also tipping Japan for the team title. “I believe Hashimoto, who does the world’s best training, is the strongest in the world,” Uchimura told Japanese media. “But the Olympics have the power to transform athletes. “It’s about whether Hashimoto can remain his overwhelmingly strong self and whether his rivals transform.”

Tokyo breakthrough

Growing up in a family of part-time farmers in Japan’s Chiba Prefecture, Hashimoto took up gymnastics at the age of six after watching his two older brothers do the same. He competed at the world championships in Stuttgart in 2019 while still a high school student, and he had an extra year to hone his craft when the Tokyo Games were delayed by a year. Uchimura decided not to compete in the all-around event on home soil because of wear and tear on his aging body, and Hashimoto took centre stage as the final reached its climax.

Placed third going into the last rotation, the horizontal bar, he put in a near-flawless routine, dismounting with a clap of his hands that sent a cloud of white chalk into the air. His performance lifted him into first, giving him the title ahead of China’s Xiao Ruoteng and Russia’s world champion Nikita Nagornyy. Hashimoto stayed dry-eyed on the podium afterwards, explaining that he felt “the champion must not cry but only look forward”. He has since gone from strength to strength, finishing second at the world championships later in 2021 behind China’s Zhang Boheng but winning the title at the next two editions.

He still has some way to go before he can catch Uchimura, who won six all-around world titles. He can match his Olympic tally if he wins gold in Paris, but the 22-year-old has other things on his mind than just winning medals. “I want to work hard so that when people ask which sports have made a splash this year, the answer they give is gymnastics,” he told reporters. – AFP

By Sheikh Mohammed Ahmed Al-Sabah AAIOT Chairman of the Board of Directors The Arabian Gulf countries are known for their vast oil reserves and wealth, but they are also facing serious challenges such as climate change, water scarcity, and corruptio...
By Abdullah Al-Mutawa In recent years, Kuwait has observed a noticeable decline in public taste, as evidenced by shifts in our cultural, artistic, and social life. This trend poses a significant challenge to our nation’s cultural identity and inte...