ANTWERP -- His day of domination complete, Kohei Uchimura stood in the mixed zone the way he often stands, radiating quietude and inner tranquillity. The reporters crowded around him, though not as thickly as the Japanese media often do, and posed questions.
Only at the end of the interview, when asked what new skills he would like to master and perform in the future, did a small look of mischievousness steal across his face.
"I'm too tired to think about that right now," he said with a grin.
The gymnast other gymnasts call Superman lived up to his nickname during the preliminary round at the World Championships Monday, calmly executing six flawless performances with his signature beautiful presentation. Uchimura posted the highest score of the day on high bar (15.658) and vault (15.4), and was second on floor (15.533).
Though only eighth on pommel horse and parallel bars with one subdivision still to compete tomorrow, there is little doubt that he will maintain his lead (91.924 points), nearly two and a half points ahead of American Sam Mikulak, who also had a fabulous, flawless performance. Chinese newcomer Lin Chaopan is third (89.430 points) after an impressive, consistent performance of his own.
Now the Olympic all-around champion and going for his fourth World title in a row -- which, if he performs the way he did in prelims, he will surely have -- Uchimura seems as centered as ever. Here's a taste of what he had to say in the mixed zone:
Q: Do you ever look at Youtube videos, to see if your competitors are catching up to you?
Uchimura: "No. No chance."
Q: Naoya Tsukahara, a 2004 Olympic team gold medalist and one of the men responsible for getting Japanese gymnastics back on track during the 1990s, is here competing for Australia. Have you had the chance to talk to him or exchange greetings?
Uchimura: "Tsukahara has been my idol, but I have not had the chance to talk with him."
Q: Earlier this year, you become a father for the first time. Has your daughter given you more inspiration in gymnastics?
Uchimura: "I've just continued gymnastics. I'd like to continue to do gymnastics, so that when she grows she can see me do gymnastics."
Q: Are there any new skills you'd like to learn and perform in the future?
Uchimura: "I'm too tired to think about that right now!"