Uchimura, the only man to win six straight World all-around titles (2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015), is widely considered the greatest male gymnast of all time but has struggled in competition since winning team and all-around gold at Rio 2016.
After eight invincible years, he was forced to withdraw during the qualification round at the 2017 World Championships in Montreal due to an injured ankle. Then, a year later, he was limited to four events at the 2018 global meet with a focus on helping Team Japan as much as he could.
“The most important thing is to win as a team,” he said at those Worlds in Doha. “So, all I have to do is do all four other apparatus perfectly, without mistake.”
His efforts resulted in a team bronze medal and runner-up finish on the high bar.
He missed the 2019 World Championships all together, his season starting out rough at the Japanese Championships in April.
“My body doesn't move the way I'd hoped it would at this point,” he said. "It's not only the shoulders, but everything from the neck down is painful."
A fifth place finish at the Japanese Senior Championships in September gave the gymnastics world hope that the superstar gymnast could recapture his former self despite some struggles.
“Before now, I could achieve results without even being aware of it,” said Uchimura. “But now I have to think about things."
The 21-time world medallist recently resumed training after a coronavirus-forced lay off, with hopes of returning to competition in September.