David Kikuchi was honoured yesterday for his past accomplishments, but the Fall River gymnast knows he can’t rest on those to get him back to the Olympic Games.
Kikuchi, announced yesterday as a finalist for Sport Nova Scotia’s IKON individual male athlete of the year, starts with a clean slate at next week’s Canadian artistic gymnastics championships in Calgary — the first qualifier for the Beijing Olympics.
He’s not getting ahead of himself.
“I’ve just gotta make the team and that’s all I’m concentrating on,” he said. “If I’m good enough and lucky enough to make it, I’ve got to train hard and prepare to have a good competition.”
The 28-year-old’s track record makes him a near lock. He is a former national champion who has been to multiple world championships and the 2004 Olympics. He also won gold with Canada at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
He helped Canada qualify six gymnasts for the Olympics at last September’s worlds, a big reason why he is up for the IKON award along with Halifax natives Jackie Barrett (Special Olympics power-lifter) and Paul Tingley (Paralympic sailor).
Kikuchi said two good gymnasts could be left in the cold.
“Nobody has a spot on the team and for those six spots, there are eight guys that are very, very strong,” he said. “Any of those eight could make the team. Any of those eight couldn’t.”
With a strong performance, Kikuchi can also earn his coach and father, Tak Kikuchi, a trip to the Olympics. Tak was nominated for the IKON coach of the year award yesterday.
Snowboarder Sarah Conrad of Dartmouth capped an impressive season with a nomination for the female individual athlete of the year award along with Caledonia sprinter Jenna Martin and Waverley kayaker Karen Furneaux.
Conrad, a 2006 Olympian, won silver at a World Cup event in Stoneham, Que., in March. She is working toward a spot at the 2010 Olympics, where a top-five finish is her goal.
“That would be super-good for me,” the 23-year-old said. “There’s so much work to do the next couple of years.”
The IKON award winners will be announced on Saturday.
No rest for top athlete nominee
David Kikuchi was honoured yesterday for his past accomplishments, butthe Fall River gymnast knows he can’t rest on those to get him back tothe Olympic Games.