HASHIMOTO Daiki on UCHIMURA Kohei comparisons: “I’d like people to see me as me”

The double Olympic champion looks to make his own legacy in gymnastics: 'Now, it's my turn to be chased after,' he said.

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

After HASHIMOTO Daike became the first Japanese man to win two individual gold medals at the same Olympic Games since 1984, the Olympic champion says he’d rather not be compared to the legendary UCHIMURA Kohei.

“I’d like people to see me as me,” Hashimoto told Olympics.com in an exclusive interview. “And Uchimura-san is still not finished, so I hope people can support us individually.”

Still, it is hard not to see Uchimura in what appears to be the next generation of great Japanese men’s gymnasts.

Uchimura is perhaps the greatest male gymnast of his time. The stylish champion made his Olympic debut at Beijing 2008, where he came runner-up in the all-around to China’s YANG Wei.

Four years later, after winning world titles in 2009, 2010 and 2011, he claimed all-around gold at London 2012. His dominance continued through the 2016 Games where he was once again champion. That made him the first man to defend an Olympic all-around title since compatriot KATO Sawao in 1968 and 72.

In Tokyo, Hashimoto kept the Japanese streak alive, giving the hosts their third straight men’s all-around gold at the Olympics.

“I’m so glad I could continue the legacy and prove that Japan has the top gymnast,” he said.

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Picture by 2021 Getty Images

But now comes the – even – harder part: maintaining that status.

It’s something that Uchimura made look so effortless for the better part of a decade as he won a record six world titles. Hashimoto knows his Olympic gold comes with a target on his back.

“Now, it’s my turn to be chased after, so I’d like to keep this status by working hard toward my ideal,” he said, later adding that he plans to participate in October’s World Championships in Kitakyushu, Japan. “I’d like to win there and become a world champion like Uchimura Kohei.”

The last time the world saw Hashimoto at the World Championships, the teenager, who celebrates his 20th birthday on Saturday (7 August), competed on only four events.

He says the extra year caused by the postponement of the Olympic Games allowed him to achieve his success at Tokyo 2020.

“It’s been a productive year for me,” Hashimoto explained. “If I had competed (in the Olympics) last year, I don’t think I would’ve had the same results. I believe I grew a lot in the past year.”

His success along with teammate KITAZONO Takeru, who is just 18 years old, signals a bright future.
“I think the fact that teenagers like the two of us could experience the Olympics will be a great treasure for Japan,” Hashimoto said. “I’d like to pass our experience to the next generations and lead this country.”

Just as Uchimura has.

“We could perform with all our hearts at the Olympics because Uchimura-san’s words and experiences have mentally supported us,” said Hashimoto. “So, without him, I don’t think we could’ve performed this well.”

Even so, he is clear he wants his own legacy in the sport.

“I hope when people think of a gymnastics champion, I want them to think of Hashimoto Daiki,” he said. “That would be my goal.”

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