Artistic Gymnastics

Teramoto Asuka not holding back on return at star-studded All-Japan gymnastics championships

Working her way back from a torn left Achilles, two-time Olympian to test ankle '90 per cent' at the championships starting on Thursday.

By Shintaro Kano ·

The All-Japan gymnastics championships will finally be held from Thursday (10 December) after an eight-month delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The event, where spectators will be allowed at Takasaki Arena in Gunma Prefecture, will also double as the All-Japan apparatus finals that were scheduled for June but postponed.

No places for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be at stake at this combo meet; the All-Japans in April will determine who goes to the Games in 2021.

But a number of top artistic gymnastics names from the Olympic host nation will be in action, with the likes of Uchimura Kohei, Shirai Kenzo, Teramoto Asuka, and Murakami Mai among the Japanese competitors looking to end on a high what was supposed to be the Games year.

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Lucky unlucky break for Teramoto

It's the women's event that begins proceedings at the All-Japans, and for defending champion Teramoto Asuka, the Games’ postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic has proved to be a blessing in disguise.

The 25-year-old tore her left Achilles in February and would have missed the Olympics had they gone ahead in 2020.

Teramoto admitted she was unsure if she could pull off a comeback at one point but now remains fearless.

So much so that the two-time Olympian, who was on all four apparatus in the recent Friendship and Solidarity Competition which welcomed back international sport to the country, is sticking the Chusovitina into her vault routine.

“I wasn’t sure if I could make it back at times”, she said during a virtual press conference on Wednesday.

“But I had so much support, (Murakami) Mai was always by my side.

“During the pandemic, I was rehabbing every day. I needed it and I’m glad I had that time. Looking back on it now, the past year has been rewarding.

“I have nothing to lose here. I’m going to be aggressive. I’m not 100 per cent but I’m trying the Chusovitina anyway.

“Even if I can’t nail it, I’ll be able to build on it. For me, this meet is all about where I stand 10 months after the injury”. - Teramoto Asuka

Teramoto said the left ankle still needs work but is happy with how it feels eight months removed from the Tokyo games in 2021.

“We haven’t been competing this year but on the flip side, it gave me a lot of time to train so I feel very fit and strong”, she said.

“The left foot just needs to catch up with the rest but like I said, my body feels strong.

“I can’t go with a full routine yet but I want to see what I can do. If I were at 100 per cent last December I’d say I’m probably at around 90 right now”.

Thursday sees the women’s preliminaries followed by the final on Saturday.

The men’s competition, featuring another comeback artist in Uchimura Kohei, begins Friday.

The men's final rounds off the championships on Sunday.

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