Two days after stating “It’s over. I knew my career would end in Rio or here in Tokyo this week. I’ve got no regrets,” regarding his storied career, legendary Japanese breaststroker Kosuke Kitajima has officially announced his retirement.
Koyoda News documented what was said in Kitajima’s press conference held in Tokyo, Japan just hours ago, where the 4-time Olympian began by stating , “With the results of the his meet [the 2016 Japan Swim/Japanese Olympic Trials], I am hereby ending my competitive career and announcing my retirement.”
The 33-year-old quadruple individual Olympic gold medalist continued, “I just want to thank everyone who supported me all this time. Inside me, I knew the end was going to come sooner or later. I had to accept the fact that I wasn’t going to the Olympics. I wanted to go to the Olympics with Coach Hirai one more time and as of last year, I was convinced I could do it.”
“So not being able to go is the most disappointing thing,” Kitajima candidly stated. “It’s very disappointing I can’t go to Rio, but it’s my fault for not being able to make it happen. I feel like I betrayed everyone who supported me. But realistically, would I have stood a chance on the world stage given my current form? Probably not.”
Reflecting on his achievements, which included sweeping the breaststroke events consecutively at Athens in 2004, then Beijing in 2008, Kitajima stated, “I’m grateful for the career I had. I managed to win an Olympic gold because of Coach Hirai and with all the support I had.”
Coach Hirai, who is the Japanese Swimming Team Head Coach, praised Kitajima and all he has accomplished throughout his historic career. “I’ve had the privilege of working with him since his second year in junior high and watched him develop into a world-class swimmer. He’s loved by everyone and I’m very proud of him for turning into the person he has become. Whatever he decides to do in life from here on, I hope he wins a gold medal in it. ”
When asked what his most memorable race was, Kitajima pointed to the 100m breaststroke race from 2008 Beijing. “The 100 in Beijing is the one for me. Just the way things unfolded from the heats, considering how strong [now-deceased Norweigan breaststroker Alexander] Dale Oen was at the time, I wasn’t 100 percent sure I could win. But I managed to have the race I did – the result, the time, the performance it was the perfect race for me.”