Japan has a long history of excellence in men’s gymnastics, and Uchimura belongs squarely to this tradition. Born to gymnast parents 23 years ago in Nagasaki, he began in the sport at age 3. He made Japan’s national team in 2007 and won a pair of silvers at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, one in the team event and the other as the second best all-around gymnast. He might have taken the gold were it not for two falls in a disastrous pommel horse routine that placed him last among 24 competitors in that individual discipline.
But Uchimura has “favorite” written all over him this time, as he is the first male or female gymnast to ever win three consecutive all-around world titles, in 2009, 2010, and 2011. He has a reputation for doing incredibly difficult moves, being consistent, and performing with such style that he won the Longines Prize for Elegance at last year’s worlds. As a collector of watches, the award was a good fit.