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Sawao Kato
Personal information
Country Represented:  Japan
Date of birth: October 11, 1946 (1946-10-11) (age 63)
Discipline: Men's artistic gymnastics

Sawao Kato (加藤 沢男 Katō Sawao, born October 11, 1946) is a Japanese gymnast and one of the most successful athletes of all time at the Olympic Games. In three Olympics, he gathered a total of twelve medals, including eight gold medals.

Kato, born in the Niigata prefecture and a student of the Tokyo Kyoiku University first competed in the Olympics at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City as a member of the Japanese team that dominated international gymnastics at the time. The Japanese team won the team competition with ease, with Kato as the top performer, winning the individual all-around as well. In addition, Kato won the gold medal in the floor exercise, and placed third in the rings event.

Four years later, when the Games were held in Munich, Kato repeated his victory in the all-around competition. At the podium, he was accompanied by two countrymen, indicating the dominance of the Japanese team, which retained its team title with ease. Kato added a fifth Olympic title on the parallel bars, while settling for silver in the pommel horse and horizontal bar contests.

Kato tried for an unprecedented third gold medal in the all-around at the 1976 Summer Olympics, but was defeated by Nikolai Andrianov of the Soviet Union. The team competition was incredibly close this time, but the Japanese defeated the Soviets by four tenths of a point, earning their fifth consecutive title. Kato closed out his Olympic career by retaining his title in the parallel bars.

He is one of only ten athletes to have won eight or more Olympic gold medals, the most successful male gymnast at the Olympics, and the best Japanese Olympian. Kato was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2001.[1]

At the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Kato became involved in a controversey in the men's team competition when he disagreed as the head judge with a routine on the horizontal bar that American gymnast Brett McClure was performing. This led McClure to perform a different routine, which caused him to do poorly, leading the United States to a silver medal in the event.

Today, Kato is a professor at the University of Tsukuba.[2]

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