Yukio Endo: Gymnast who won five gold medals at the Olympic Games

Yukio Endo was one of Japan's most successful and celebrated gymnasts. He was a member of the all-conquering gymnastics teams that dominated the 1960s, winning Olympic team titles in 1960, 1964 and 1968, and world team titles in 1962 and 1966.

At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Endo won his country's first gold medal for the individual all-around and also won gold on the parallel bars competition, with silver on the floor exercises for good measure. He went on to have a gymnastic element on the high bar named after him – the "Endo roll" – and he became Japan's most accomplished and revered gymnast.

Yukio Endo was born in Akita Prefecture in the north-west of Japan on 18 January 1937. His family ran a pharmacy. Following the death of his mother from tuberculosis when he was nine years of age, the young Endo grew up in a state orphanage. He recalled that his interest in gymnastics was sparked by a teacher who encouraged him to get involved in sport rather than "just lying in bed".

Japan was banned from the 1948 Olympic Games and went to the 1952 Helsinki Olympics as an unknown quantity in gymnastics, but finished fifth overall and fifth in the team competition, in which Takashi Ono, from the same prefecture as Endo, participated. Japan was encouraged by this result and set about challenging, and ultimately breaking, the Soviet Bloc countries' domination of the sport.

In the 1956 Olympics, in Melbourne, success came when the Japanese gymnastics team nearly tripled their medal count and finished third overall in the gymnastics table behind the Soviet Union and Hungary. Japan's star performer was Takashi Ono, who won his country's first gymnastics Olympic gold medal on the high bar. He inspired Endo, who trained intensely at Akita Technical High School before entering the Tokyo University of Education (now the University of Tsukuba), from which he graduated in 1959.

While at university, Endo was coached by Akitomo Kaneko and participated in various university-level gymnastic competitions, finishing fifth in the individual all-around discipline. In 1960, while an assistant instructor of physical education at Nihon University, he was selected to be a member of the Japanese national team for the 1960 Rome Olympics, where he made his international debut.

In Rome, Endo joined his idol and mentor as a member of the team that earned Japan's first team Olympic gold medal in gymnastics. In addition, they won three further gold medals, which placed them second overall in gymnastics behind the Soviet Union. Endo tied with his team-mate Masao Takemoto for fifth place in the all-around event, and was fifth on the vault and fourth on the high bar.

Following his first Olympics and the team's Olympic success, Endo, who had just been "very happy to be able to fly abroad in an airplane", went from strength to strength. At the 1962 World Championships in Prague, Japan again won the team gold with Endo taking six individual medals. He won another gold on the floor exercise, silver medals in the all-around, still rings and high bar, and bronze medals on vault and parallel bars. He was now regarded as Japan's top gymnast.

With the 1964 Olympics taking place in Tokyo, the team was under enormous pressure to succeed. They did not disappoint. Japan successfully defended the team title and Endo, aged 27 and in his prime, won gold medals in the all-around event and parallel bars as well as silver in the floor exercises. This enabled Japan to knock the Soviets off top spot and break their domination in the gymnasium for the first time. The all-conquering team, and Endo in particular, became national heroes.

Endo followed up his Olympic achievements with three more medals at the 1966 World Championships in Dortmund; gold with the team and silvers on the floor exercise and high bar.

The 1968 Mexico Olympics saw Endo, now aged 31, honoured as the nation's flag bearer. As team captain, he led Japan to another team gold, in addition to individual silver in the long horse vault. Japan also maintained their position as the leading gymnastic nation ahead of the Eastern Bloc countries.

Shortly after the Games Endo retired and became a coach and trainer for aspiring athletes while teaching at Tokyo's Nihon University. He was later appointed as a professor there. In 1972, as team manager, he led Japan's competitors to the Munich Olympics. Over the years he was also a director of the Japanese Olympic Committee and twice vice-president of the Japan Gymnastic Association. In 1996 he received Japan's highest honour, the Emperor's Medal, and in 1999 he received the ultimate accolade when he was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. However, he once commented that his most prized keepsake was the "private trophy" that was given to him for winning Japan's first individual all-round gold medal by Takashi Ono.

Overall, Endo won a total of 17 career medals: seven Olympic medals (five gold and two silver) and three gold, five silver and two bronze medals in the World Championships.



Yukio Endo, born Akita, Japan 18 January 1937; married (one son); died Tokyo 25 March 2009.

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Key Account Manager, Medical

£35000 per annum, Benefits: Excellent commission structure + Car: Charter Sele...

Key Account Manager, Medical

£35000 per annum, Benefits: Excellent commission structure + Car: Charter Sele...

Senior Technical Project Assistant - Hampshire - up to 45K

£40000 - £45000 per annum + 23 days holiday, pension scheme: Deerfoot IT Resou...

Senior Multimedia Developer - Southampton - up to £34.5K

£30000 - £34500 per annum + 36 days holiday, Pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Li...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice