LONDON (AP) — Kohei Uchimura wows with a combination of flawless execution and flair.
He'll need both to finally forget about the disappointment of winning Olympic silver.
The three-time gymnastics world champion long dedicated himself to capturing gold for Japan in the Olympic team competition. Now, with that goal gone at the London Games, he's gearing up to go for gold all on his own.
The overwhelming favorite in Wednesday's all-around competition is missing only that medal hanging around his neck to further solidify his spot among the best male gymnasts ever — if not the greatest of all time.
Sure, Japan jumped onto the Olympic podium for second place in the team competition Monday night after judges adjusted his pommel horse score.
No way was that good enough for Uchimura — even considering he would have had no medal at all without the winning appeal.
"I was very disappointed to end up with silver because I was aiming for gold," said Uchimura, who also settled for silver at the 2008 Games.
Also on Wednesday's schedule, two-time defending gold medalist beach volleyball pair Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor of the United States wrap up pool play against Austrian sisters Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger. At the Aquatics Centre, Americans Allison Schmitt and Missy Franklin lead the U.S. in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay as the Americans try to bounce back from a bronze in Beijing and get back to the top of the podium.
Following an uncharacteristic stretch of mistakes in training and qualifying, Uchimura points to miscues in each of his six routines that he must figure out, and fast, when he chases his elusive gold at raucous, jam-packed O2 Arena.
At 23, Uchimura is a mighty perfectionist in a 5-foot-3, 119-pound frame.
While his enviable style and charisma make Uchimura a megastar in the sport, it's his spot-on routines time and again, year after year, that truly set him apart. Gymnasts asked about him are hard pressed to find even the slightest wrong move in Uchimura's impeccable performances.
Germany's Philipp Boy, second to Uchimura at the past two world championships, lamented last year that perhaps he'd been born in "the wrong age."
China's Yang Wei is the one pulling off the insanely difficult routines, but Uchimura has an arsenal of tricks that more than do the trick.
Uchimura's parents run their own gym in Nagasaki, Japan, where he got his start when he could barely walk.
He has already been a gymnast for 20 years of his young life, piling up a long list of international accomplishments. For one, he's the first gymnast to win three consecutive all-around world crowns and the first male ever to win three.
He is more than just a gymnast, too. He collects watches and has a fascination with sports cars. Once asked to name his idol, he didn't choose one of his nation's many star gymnasts but instead picked the Japanese cartoon hero in "Ganba! Fly High."
As Japan's youngster in the Beijing Games four years ago, Uchimura finished second to defending gold medalist Yang.
"He came pretty close in 2008, so I think he already has a taste of it," American Danell Leyva said, "and he's just going to be showing the world his gymnastics."
Uchimura sure hopes that's the case — and that he rediscovers his top form right in time.
"I was not thinking about getting the gold or the individual medal," he said. "I had so many mistakes in qualifications and training, that I'm not going to make mistakes in the same six apparatus. That's my current aim. So, I'm not thinking about getting gold at the moment but focused on not making mistakes because there have been mistakes on every single routine."
China's Chen Yibing has no doubt. And he describes Uchimura so simply:
NBC Wednesday Olympic prime time schedule:
8 p.m.-midnight (EDT/PDT)
Swimming: gold medal finals men's 200m breaststroke, men's 100m freestyle, women's 200m butterfly, women's 4x200m freestyle relay. Men's gymnastics: all-around gold medal final. Women's beach volleyball: May-Treanor/Walsh (U.S.) vs. D. Schwaiger/S. Schwaiger (Austria). Men's diving: synchronized springboard gold medal final.
AP National Writer Nancy Armour contributed to this story.