- 11 Oct 2006
- Olympic News
Sawao Kato: a golden 60th birthday
Today, 11 October, this Japanese gymnast is celebrating his 60th birthday.
He is unquestionably one of the greatest medallists in Olympic history. With 12 medals, eight of them gold, at three different Olympic Games, the Japanese athlete made his mark on sporting history.
Mexico City 1968
Sawao Kato began his Olympic career in 1968 in Mexico City, where he won three gold medals (floor exercises, individual and team combined exercises) and a bronze medal on the rings. That year, Japan dominated the gymnastics competitions, winning half of the 18 gold medals awarded for the individual events.
In Munich, four years later, he added another three gold medals. One of these was a further combined exercises title. Two of his compatriots joined him on the podium. Kato also won the parallel bars competition. Japan won the men’s team combined exercises, showing its domination of this discipline. Finally, Kato placed second on the parallel bars and the pommel horse.
At the Montreal Games, he failed to win the individual combined exercises, finishing one point behind the Russian Nikolai Andrianov. But he still managed another two gold medals: in the parallel bars, which he dominated, and in the team combined exercises, where Japan won its fifth consecutive victory with a four-tenths of a point lead over the Soviet team.
The 1976 Games concluded the glittering career of this outstanding gymnast.