Retired multi-Olympic gold medalist Kosuke Kitajima of Japan is set to race in his first competition in over seven years.
The legendary breaststroker who turned 40 years of age last September is set to compete at the 2023 Tokyo Masters Swimming Tournament this weekend at Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center.
“I entered this weekend’s Masters competition just for fun. I’m competing in a complete lack of practice but the pool is full of history and memories,” Kitajima said on social media this week.
It’s fitting that one of Japan’s most storied athletes will be taking part in one of the final competitions to take place at the decades-old facility.
Tatsumi International Swimming Center opened in 1993 and has been home to myriad elite domestic and international competitions in swimming and artistic swimming throughout its history.
As we reported in 2021, however, with the construction of the Tokyo Aquatics Center which was used for the 2020 Olympic Games, Tatsumi will be converted into an ice rink. The facility will be closed as of March 31st for renovations to begin.
Kitajima is a 4-time Olympian who competed at the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Games, racking up back-to-back 100m and 200m breaststroke gold medals between 2004 and 2008. He retired in 2016 after falling short of making his nation’s Olympic roster for Rio.
Since then, Kitajima has been busy on the administrative side of things, serving as chairman of the Tokyo Swimming Association (TSA) as well as being involved in the International Swimming League (ISL).
In 2019 Kitajima was appointed the ISL’s representative in Japan and tasked with launching a team in Tokyo. The Frog Kings were born and competed in seasons 2 and 3 of the now-in-hiatus ISL.
Since 2022 Kitajima has also spearheaded ‘Tokyo Unite’, an alliance intended to bolster professional sport’s marketing presence in the capital and foster deeper community ties. The organization spans 14 organizations across 7 sporting disciplines.