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Reigning Gold Medal Gymnast from Japan Slips Off Horizontal Bar in Stunning Fall, Out of Olympics

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Japan's Kohei Uchimura — whose three-time gold medal-winning gymnastics career earned him the nickname of "king" — failed to advance past his first appearance at the Tokyo Summer Olympics when, in a stunning error, he slipped and fell from the horizontal bar on Saturday.

Though Uchimura, 32, picked himself up and completed his routine, the mistake marred his final score and he failed to qualify.

He appeared to trip up as he spun around the bar, faster and faster, crisscrossing his hands to maintain control until he lost his grip.

"I couldn't perform what I have practiced. That's how I simply feel," he told reporters afterward, audibly disappointed. "It has been so tough to get selected as a national team member. That itself was already really tough."

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Kohei Uchimura
Kohei Uchimura

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images Kohei Uchimura of Team Japan loses his grip as he competes on the horizontal bar during men's gymnastics qualifications on day one of the Tokyo Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on Saturday.

Kohei Uchimura
Kohei Uchimura

Photo by LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images Team Japan's Kohei Uchimura reacts after falling down during the horizontal bars event of the men's gymnastics qualification during the Tokyo Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre on Saturday.

"All I can think of are negative thoughts right now, but what's done is done," he said. "I can't do anymore, so right now I'm starting to accept it."

The Tokyo Games were to have been a comeback of sorts for Uchimura, who is one of Japan's most decorated gymnasts ever and the back-to-back all-around gold medalist in 2012 and 2016.

Since then, however, he has struggled with injury and opted to focus on the horizontal bar.

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Speaking with the press after his fall, Uchimura praised the work of his teammates.

"Just great ... even though all of them competed in the Olympic Games for the first time," he said, adding, "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."

Kohei Uchimura
Kohei Uchimura

Photo by MARTIN BUREAU/AFP via Getty Images Team Japan's Kohei Uchimura competes on the horizontal bar during men's gymnastics qualifications on day one of the Tokyo Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on Saturday.

As for his own future, he said nothing was set.

"Let me think about it when I go back to the accommodation," he said.

"But," he said. "I have experienced the bottom of the bottom when I wasn't doing well. So I am not as disappointed as I expected."

To learn more about Team USA, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics now on NBC.

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