Preparing for his final competition, two-time Japanese Olympian Takehiro Kashima, tells his successors to "aim for beautiful gymnastics."
Kashima, 28, is one of six Japanese men on the roster for the Toyota Cup International, to be held Dec. 15-16 in Toyota City.
It will be the swan song for Kashima, a double gold medalist at the 2003 World Championships and member of Japan's golden team at the 2004 Olympics. He competed in four world championships and two Olympics, earning a total of nine medals.
The Osaka native spoke to the press at the 2008 Japanese National Championships, held this past weekend in Niigata.
Takehiro Kashima (Japan)
Q: How did you decide it was the right time for retirement?
TK: After Beijing, I thought, "It's about time" and almost decided. In fact, I was thinking about this during the training camps for Beijing. I really want to train always at the maximum, but it was getting to be impossible for me. I couldn't train how I wanted. That's why I decided to retire. I wanted to go to competitions by being prepared, but I couldn't do enough training. Then it turned out that my body couldn't keep up with the competitions. For gymnastics, every single day is very important and a stack of everyday training sessions lead us to the competition results. Therefore, the fact that I couldn't keep doing enough of those daily training sessions made me decide to retire. I told Tomita after the all-around final at the Beijing Olympics in the Olympic Village that I would retire.
Q: Which were the most memorable moments in your career? Which were the most painful?
TK: I think my gymnastics life itself led me to develop myself as a person. Therefore even the fact that I could take part in gymnastics is enough to make me glad. Among the gold medals I've won, the most impressive and delightful one is the team gold from the Olympics in Athens. The Olympics was my dream and we went through tough training for it and got the gold medal. This is the most joyful one. The painful moment was the 2007 World Championships, where I had to withdraw due to injury.
Q: What is the pommel horse for you?
TK: It was the best apparatus to bring out the best in myself.
Q: What is next on your schedule?
TK: I'm going to take part in the Toyota Cup, although I'm going to do only pommel horse. I'd like to perform with a feeling of gratitude for people who have taken care of me. After that, I'd like to do something related to gymnastics, like being a coach.
Q: Please give a message to the gymnasts coming up after you.
TK: I want them to aim for beautiful gymnastics. Although the current rules require them to do lots of elements, I want them to remember that the basics and the beauty are important for gymnastics.
External Link: Japanese Gymnastics Association