Swimming: Japan great Kitajima to retire after failed Rio bid

Tokyo—Japan superstar Kosuke Kitajima is set to retire from competitive swimming after failing in his bid to qualify for a fifth Olympics on Friday.
The 33-year-old finished fifth in the men’s 200-metres breaststroke at the national championships, having already missed out in the 100m earlier in the week.
“I knew my career would end in Rio or here in Tokyo this week,” Kitajima told reporters, fighting back tears after waving an emotional farewell to fans in Tokyo.
“In my mind it’s over,” added Kitajima, who won double breaststroke gold at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. “It was a long, hard road to come back and try again to get to an Olympics but I have to accept the result. I’ve got no regrets.”
Kitajima faded badly over the second half of Friday’s final, clocking a disappointing two minutes, 9.96 seconds as heir apparent Yasuhiro Koseki (2:08.14) and 19-year-old Ippei Watanabe (2:09.45) booked their spots in Rio this summer to mark a changing of the guard.
“I wanted to go out swimming my style of race,” said Kitajima. “I just didn’t have it in the last 25 metres, it just wasn’t there.”
Kitajima, who claimed a silver medal in the 4x100m relay at the London Olympics four years ago, had been furious with himself after missing the qualifying time in the 100m on Tuesday in a stunning result that also left race winner Koseki disappointed.
But he was more philosophical after trailing home fifth in the longer race, which was always likely to prove harder for him.
“I’m upset about the result of course but I left everything out there,” said Kitajima. “As an athlete this is the end for me but I fought hard to get to this point and challenge for an Olympic spot again.”—AFP

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