Japan's defending individual all-around Olympic champion Kohei Uchimura did not advance to the men's gymnastics apparatus finals Saturday at the Tokyo Olympics, ending his hopes of winning a medal at a fourth straight games.
Uchimura, a seven-time Olympic medalist known as "King Kohei" in Japan and abroad, lost his grip and fell from the horizontal bar and scored only 13.866 points, not enough to finish among the top eight and advance to the final on Aug. 3 at Ariake Gymnastics Centre.
"I couldn't execute what I have practiced. That's how I simply think," he said. "In the last three Olympic Games, I could put into action what I practiced. But I couldn't do that at these Olympics."
"I hit my peak already. It has been so tough to get selected as a national team member. That in itself was already really tough," he added.
Uchimura had said in the past that he would not have continued competing if the Olympics were not being held in Tokyo.
He refused to be drawn on whether his competition on Saturday was his last, saying he will need to think about that later.
"I have experienced the low of lows when I wasn't doing well. So I am not as disappointed as I expected," he said.
The 32-year-old decided last year to focus on the individual horizontal bar at his home Olympics, instead of defending his titles in the team event and the individual all-around competition, both of which involve competing in multiple apparatus.
He had been dealing with fitness struggles so chose that path to improve his chances of competing in Tokyo, even though he had repeatedly expressed his belief that a gymnast must be able to compete on the floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and the horizontal bar.
Uchimura made his Olympic debut at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he finished with a silver in the individual all-around event. He won the event at the 2012 London Games and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games to establish himself as one of the all-time greats.
He was also part of the Japanese squad that won team gold in Rio.
However, he struggled following the 2016 Games, and his winning streak at all-around events was snapped at 40 after he withdrew from the 2017 world championships due to a left ankle injury. He also missed a spot in the finals of the 2019 national championships.
While Uchimura's Tokyo Olympics journey is over, he said Japan's gymnasts, most of whom are much younger than him, are capable of going it alone.
"After I finished the horizontal bar and came back to the arena to watch, I saw them sorting out their problems on their own. I felt I wasn't needed anymore," he said.