Kosuke Kitajima became the first man to win the 100 and 200 breaststroke events at two consecutive Olympics, 2004 and 2008, becoming one of Japan’s greatest athletes, but the four time Olympic champion has seen better days.
Kitajima had an extremely frustrating outing at the Japan Open this past weekend finishing third in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.61) and fifth in the B-final of the 200 breaststroke (2:11.85), failing to make the Japanese teams that will be competing at the Pan Pacific Championships and Asian Games.
Despite the disappointing performances, he told the media at the competition that this wasn’t the end, “For the time being I won’t be retiring,” said Kitajima. “I know you would like me to say I am.”
He also told Nikkan Sports that since the 2012 Olympics, where he finished fourth in the 200 breaststroke and fifth in the 100 breaststroke, he has not put everything he can into his preparation, “I haven’t been taking it flat out this season and last,” said Kitajima.
“It’s about how to approach swimming in a serious way, but I’m not retiring. I will have to begin training earlier (next season) and start from scratch.”
Last year Kitajima finished sixth at the World Championships in the 100 breaststroke.
Many in the Japanese media were already calling Yasuhiro Koeski, who took both the 100 and 200 breaststroke at the Japan Open, a rising star in the “Post Kitajima” era.
Although he will be extending his career he did admit to several media outlets that “Time’s running out.”