With the 2020 Olympics now less than 200 days away, Japan’s swimmers are stepping up their game in terms of wanting to shine big for their home nation at this summer’s Games.
25-year-old Daiya Seto, the two-time gold medalist at the 2019 World Championships, was recently named as captain of the Japanese swimming Olympic team, having qualified for the event with his world titles.
Now, breaststroking ace Ippei Watanabe is making his intentions known, setting a numerical target for his specialty event of the men’s 200m breaststroke.
“The aim is in the order of 2 minutes and 5 seconds,” is what Watanabe told the Asian press this week, as published by the Japanese Olympic Committee. (JOC)
Obtaining the mark at Japan’s Olympic Trials (Japan Swim) in April ‘will put pressure on my rivals’ says the 22-year-old.
Not only would it put pressure on his rivals, but a time in the sub-2:06 territory would establish a new World Record in the 200m breast event, a mark he himself once owned.
In 2017, Watanabe became the first-ever man under 2:07 by clocking a new World Record of 2:06.67. That was later eclipsed by Australia’s Matt Wilson before being lowered once again in the 2019 World Championships final to a new result of 2:06.12 by Russian Anton Chupkov.
Wilson finished with the silver in Gwangju in 2:06.68, while Watanabe touched .06 outside of that aforementioned former WR and previous lifetime best with a bronze medal-worthy time of 2:06.73. As such, Watanabe would need to drop at least .68 off of his best-ever effort to get under 2:06 and meet his goal.
Giving him extra motivation is perhaps the fact that Watanabe has been selected as a 2020 Olympic Games torchbearer. Representing his hometown of Oita, the swimmer says that he is happy when he thinks of his parents and everyone who has been supporting him throughout the career.
“I’ll keep in mind that I represent the swimming community and I hope to give a dream to teenagers who are devoting themselves to swimming.
“I will turn my gratitude into positive energy and train harder for the Japan Swim to be held in April.” (LDH News)