Olympic Legend Steps Down
LAUSANNE (SUI), FIG Office, February 20, 2013: Japanese athlete Sawao Kato, a sixty-seven year old gymnastics legend from the 1970s, is stepping down from his position on the FIG Men's Artistic Technical Committee after twenty years of devoted collaboration.
Prior to his administrative career, Sawao Kato was an exceptional champion, having taken home a total of 12 Olympic medals, 8 of which Gold at the Games of Mexico, Munich and Montreal in 1968, 1972 and 1976 respectively. Kato is All-arounder incarnate; the embodiment of the complete gymnast who masters every difficulty, both on Floor and apparatus. He was a driving force behind Japanese success in gymnastics, contending for years against the stars of the Soviet school.
Brilliant at the Rings, incredible at the Horizontal Bar, elegant on Floor, Sawao was the perfect example of a talented gymnast who put the success of his team over any other consideration.
He went on to enjoy a career of teaching, leaving an imprint on more than one generation of Japanese gymnasts with his experience and wisdom.
Kato's administrative career began in 1992 when he was elected to the Men's Technical Committee by the General Assembly in Salou. At that time the Committee was led by Karl-Heinz Zschocke (GER), and Kato would not step down from that position until his retirement in 2012. Another sterling example of his commitment.
At the transfer of powers ceremony, and in the presence of the newly elected authorities, the FIG took leave of one of its most beloved collaborators; a gentleman both on and off the mat. Thus the name Sawao Kato goes down in the annals of FIG history.