2018 JAPAN HIGH SCHOOL CHAMPIONSHIPS
- Friday, August 17th – Monday, August 20th
- NGK Sports Plaza, Nagoya, Japan
While the top-tier of Japanese talent is representing the nation at the ongoing Asian Games in Indonesia, several standouts wrapped up domestic competition at the Japanese High School championships in Nagoya over the weekend.
2016 Olympian and 2017 World Championship finalist Runa Imai was one of the high-profile athletes hitting the NGK Sports Plaza pool this weekend. Representing Toyogawa High School, Imai established a new meet record en route to winning the women’s 200m IM. Stopping the clock at 2:11.00, Imai was able to stand atop the podium with ease, beating the field by over a second. Imai finished 15th overall in this event at the Rio Olympics and most recently claimed a solid 5th place showing at last year’s World Championships in Budapest. The latter competition is where she produced her personal best mark of 2:09.99.
Imai also did some damage in the women’s 100m breaststroke event at these High School Championships, slaying another meet record with a winning time of 1:07.41. That mark dips under her previous personal best of 1:07.87 and represented the only racer of the field to register a time under 1:09.
Although they didn’t notch meet records, the men’s and women’s 400m IM winners claimed gold in impressive fashion, as Shuya Matsumoto took the former in a mark of 4:15.73, while Miku Kojima came out on top in the latter with a time of 4:40.96. For Kojima, her time was just .18 away from the 4:39.14 she threw down in Indianapolis last year to claim the World Junior title.
Huge fireworks came in the men’s 100m fly event, however, with Shinnosuke Ishikawa cranking out a monster personal best for the victory. Entering this meet, Ishikawa’s career fastest sat at the 52.82 he notched at the 2017 World Junior Championships in the semi-finals. He would go on to settle for 4th overall in 52.84 in Indy, but seeing Hungarian Kristof Milak take the World Junior title in a world-class 51.08 sparked a fire in Ishikawa.
On the final day in Nagoya, after establishing himself as the top seeded 100m flyer in 52.91, Ishikawa hacked an entire second off of his prelims time to score the gold medal in a quick mark of 51.92 to represent his first time under the 52-second barrier. Ishikawa’s effort produced a new meet record, but also a Japanese national high school record as well.
Ishikawa’s mark checks-in as the 26th fastest in the world for 2018. His birth date is August 12, 2000 which would make Ishikawa either 18 by just over a week. For perspective, his 51.92 time would check-in as the 2nd fastest performer ever among American 17-18-year-old men, sitting ahead of Olympian Ian Crocker (52.44) and only behind icon Michael Phelps (51.10).
Article updated with birth date since original publishing.