10 July, 2009

1st Japan Cup 2009 Chiba (JPN), July 18 – 19, 2009

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UCHIMURA-Kohei-(JPN)The Japan Gymnastic Association will host the 1st Japan Cup in Chiba (JPN) on July 18 – 19, 2009. This FIG-approved event, which is the first international meet in the Tokyo area since 1993, will feature gymnasts from the top ranked countries of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
49 gymnasts from Australia, China, Germany, Korea, Russia, the USA and Japan will compete in both Team and Individual All-around Championships. The Team All-around will play out for the first time ever in the “5-3-3” format (Competition IV), which will also be applied at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Spectators will get a chance to observe how each country uses the new system and what its strategy will be. Top gymnasts from every country will provide a high level of entertainment in the Individual All-around competition.
Kohei Uchimura, Silver medallist in the All-around at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, will lead the Japanese Men’s Team. Koki Sakamoto will assist Uchimura as another 2008 Olympian. Eichi Sekiguchi, who competed in the 2005 and 2006 World Championships, is Japan’s most experienced male gymnast, while Kazuhito Tanaka qualified second after Uchimura for this meet. Koji Yamamuro, Uchimura’s team-mate at Nippon Sports Science University, completes Japan’s Men’s Team; both men are twenty years old.
The Japanese Women’s Team remains nearly unchanged from its 2008 Olympic make-up. Koko Tsurumi takes the lead after winning both the 2009 National Championships and the NHK Cup. Yuko Shintake, Miki Uemura, Kyoko Oshima and Yu Minobe will challenge Russia, China and Australia for the Japan Cup medal.
2008 Olympic Silver-medallist Jonathan Horton headlines the U.S. Men’s squad that will compete in the 2009 Japan Cup. Joining Horton on the team are: Kyle Bunthuwong, 2007 U.S. Junior Parallel Bars Champion; Steven Legendre, 2008 NCAA All-around, Vault and Floor Exercise Champion; Danell Leyva, Gold medallist on the Parallel Bars at 2009 Winter Cup and the High Bar at the 2008 PAGU Individual Event Championships; Tim McNeill, 2009 Winter Cup Horizontal Bar Champion; and Sho Nakamori, 2009 NCAA Team Champion. Horton was a member of the USA’s Olympic bronze-medal team and won the weighted All-around at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
Germany’s Men’s squad, 4th at the 2008 Olympic Games, is already in Tokyo where they are conducting a one-week training camp prior to the Japan Cup. The team of 8 gymnasts include World Champion on Horizontal Bar and European All-around Champion Fabian Hambuechen, Philipp Boy, Matthias Fahrig, Marcel Nguyen, Philip Sorrer, Eugen Spiridonov, Thomas Taranu, and Andreas Toba. An internal qualification will determine the five gymnasts to be chosen for the competition. The team’s primary goal at this point is to find a good starting position in the new team competition format as well as in the All-around, and to finish in the upper half of the rankings.
The high profile line-up of the Japan Cup features stars such as Chen Yibing (CHN), 2008 Olympic Champion on Rings and Russians Yuri Ryazanov and Anton Golotsutskov, 2008 Olympic Bronze medallist on Floor and Vault. A strong Chinese Team will liven up the Women’s competition with 2008 Olympic Champion on Uneven Bars He Kexin and 2007 World Championships runner-up on Balance Beam Li Shanshan. Russians gymnasts Ekatarina Kurbatova and Anna Myzdrikova attracted the crowd’s attention at the 2009 World Cup in Maribor where they finished in the top ranking positions on Uneven Bars and Floor respectively.
The Team competition is scheduled for July 18 with the All-around on July 19, which will feature 12 gymnasts, a maximum of two per country. In the Team competition, three gymnasts compete on the four apparatus, and all three scores count toward the total team score.
The event will be televised on Fuji Television Network on both days.
For more information on the Japan Cup 2009, competition format and the complete list of participating gymnasts, consult the official event website.