Last year prolific Japanese backstroker Ryosuke Irie said he would continue racing through 2022. Now that this year’s World Championships have concluded, the 32-year-old ace is still looking toward the future, keeping his eyes on Paris 2024.
“I decided to strongly aim for the Paris Olympics to be held in 2024. I want to swim without regrets for the two years leading up to the Olympics,” Irie said on Instagram this week.
After the 2020 Olympic Games, where Irie finished 9th in the 100m backstroke and 7th in the 200m backstroke, the 4-time Olympian stated, “I thought about retiring after the Tokyo Olympics. But there was still something missing in my heart.”
At the time Irie also hinted at cutting his schedule down to just the 100m backstroke ongoing, focusing on both the individual event and trying to produce the best possible performance as the lead-off on Japan’s medley relay.
In Budapest, Irie indeed opted out of the 200m back and placed 7th in the 100m back. He also led off Team Japan’s men’s medley relay with the 4th fastest backstroke split of the prelims field; however, the nation wound up 9th and out of the final.
Although Irie has been on the international racing scene since his debut in 2007, the seemingly ageless wonder still dominates the backstroke discipline within Japan. You’d have to go back all the way to 2007 for the 200m and 2013 in the 100m find a man not named Ryosuke Irie ranked as the top performer in each event in Japan for that calendar year.
As a tribute to the man’s longevity, here is a listing of Irie’s best 100m backstroke times per year beginning in 2014.