Speaking to the Asian press after his 200m breaststroke race where he registered a time of 2:09.96 for 5th place, the 33-year-old is quoted as saying, “It’s over. I knew my career would end in Rio or here in Tokyo this week. I’ve got no regrets.”
Earlier in the meet, Kitajima finished 2nd in the 100m breaststroke, but was only able to dip beneath that event’s Olympic-qualifying mark in the semi’s. Per the Japanese Federation’s Olympic-qualifying criteria, that wasn’t enough for Kitajima to make his historic 5th Olympic Games.
Back in May of last year Kitajima alluded that he would retire after Rio after already reigning as consecutive Olympic champion in both the 100m and 200m breaststroke events across the Athens and Beijing Olympic Games. In 2010 he swept the breaststrokes at the Pan Pacific Championships in Irvine, California. It was in 2011 that he would earn his last individual medal on an international scale: a silver in the 200m breaststroke at the World Championships in Shanghai.
Below is one Asian news source’s social media announcement of Kitajima’s retirement:
https://t.co/x29vX7UVdZ#北島康介 選手が８日、現役引退を表明。男子２００メートル決勝で５位となり、５大会連続の五輪出場を逃しました。（長） pic.twitter.com/wTWJRaalrH
— 朝日新聞写真部 (@asahi_photo) April 8, 2016