Junya Koga Set To Race For First Time In Nearly 2 1/2 Years

2020 Tokyo Special Swimming Tournament

  • Saturday, August 29th & Sunday, August 30th
  • Tatsumi International Swimming Centre
  • LCM (50m)
  • Timed Finals

Japanese leukemia survivor Rikako Ikee has picked out the 2020 Tokyo Special Swimming Tournament as her return race back after well over a year out of the pool. You can read more about our report on Ikee’s inspirational return here.

The meet is a recently added event to the Tokyo Swimming Association’s lineup, with the competition’s intent to give swimmers a fresh start and new base on which to build moving forward from the height of the coronavirus pandemic within Japan and around the world.

“We will hold the Tokyo Special Swimming Tournament as a break from our past goals and a start towards new goals,” is how organizers describe the competition.

Additionally, the Association, which has multi-Olympic gold medalist Kosuke Kitajima as its chairman, says, “We will thoroughly implement preventative measures against coronavirus at this event. We will manage the number of participants with strict minimum entry times.

“Safety is our highest priority. The tournament may be canceled due to future circumstances.”

In addition to Ikee, we revealed last night that both Kosuke Hagino and Yui Ohashi are now set to compete at the event. Less than 24 hours, national record holder Junya Koga has also revealed his entry in the meet.

33-year-old Koga confirmed to SwimSwam that he will be racing the 50m and 100m backstroke events.

Koga’s ban was lifted as of May 14th of this year, meaning the backstroking ace is eligible to try for a spot on his nation’s team for the 2020 Games hosted in Tokyo next year.

He served a 2-year ban after having tested positive for Ligandrol in March of 2018. The 2017 World Championships silver medalist’s 4-year ban was reduced down to 2 years due to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) concluding that contamination of supplements unknowingly ingested by Koga was most likely the cause for his positive test.

Since then, the former Wolverine Elite athlete has broken his silence on thoughts of suicide and overall ill mental health while dealing with his positive test ordeal. In our report from last month, Koga said,“I repeated waking up to just sit down on my couch, stare at TV and realize night had come. I then thought…’balcony is just right there…all will go away if I just jump from there.

“I could not even go out because I knew everyone knew about me…and was afraid to go out. I had lost 8kg in one week because I could no eat at all.”

The man has been on the mend, however, putting his focus and fortitude into swimming and his own profession of jewelry design. His races at the Tokyo Special Swimming Tournament would mark his first official competition in just under 2 1/2 years.

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Jolynn Swimmer
1 month ago

Excited to see him back in competition. I read his story a few months ago.

1 month ago

It’s already been 2.5 years? Time flies

Reply to  DRUKSTOP
1 month ago


About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

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