Video courtesy of The Olympic Channel.
Although the entry lists for the 2018 Asian Games are not yet published on the official meet site, it’s very likely that Japan’s Kosuke Hagino will be racing both the 200m and 400m IM events in a bid to repeat his titles from the 2014 edition of the prestigious continental competition.
Back in 2014, Hagino crushed winning times of 1:55.34 and 4:07.75 to grab gold medals while registering new Games Records times in both races. That foreshadowed what the now-24-year-old would go on to do at the 2016 Olympic Games. In Rio, Hagino earned a new Asian Record while punching a time of 4:06.05 to take gold in the 400m IM ahead of rivals Chase Kalisz of America and Daiya Seto, his Japanese teammate. Hagino then notched a quick 1:56.61 to take silver behind American icon Michael Phelps in the sprint IM for his 2nd individual Olympic medal.
Flash forward to the 2017 World Championships, however, and the 400m IM proved to be a disaster for Hagino. Nabbing the 7th seed after prelims, Hagino mustered a modest 4:12.65 to fall well off the podium for 6th place. In his stead, teammate Seto landed in the bronze medal position behind winner Kalisz and silver medalist David Verraszto. However, Hagino did bounce back with a silver in the sprint IM, clocking 1:56.01 behind Kalisz’s winning effort of 1:55.56.
Most recently at the Pan Pacific Championships, Hagino played 2nd fiddle to Kalisz once again, finishing behind the American for silver in the 400m IM, while snagging bronze in the 200m IM behind both Kalisz and relative newcomer-to-the-event Mitch Larkin of Australia.
Although both of the aforementioned athletes from Pan Pacs won’t be competing in the Asian Games, Hagino will still have his hands full. China’s Wang Shun has come on strongly in the 200m IM, holding the world’s 4th fastest time of the season with the 1:56.57 at Chinese Nationals. His mark of 1:56.16 from the same meet in 2017 makes Shun the 11th fastest performer ever in the event. Wang has also made strides in the longer IM distance, holding the season’s 7th fastest effort in the 4:12.59 put forth at the China Games last fall.
Hagino’s rival teammate Seto will no doubt be in the IM medal mix, as will another Japanese swimmer in Keita Sunama. China’s Qin Haiyang is also a threat lurking in the Jakarta pool as well.