2020 KONAMI OPEN
- Saturday, February 15th & Sunday, February 16th
- Tatsumi International Swimming Centre, Tokyo, Japan
- SwimSwam Preview #1/Preview #2
- Start Lists
The final meet within the trio of Japanese ‘K’ competitions kicked off today in Tokyo, as the 2020 Konami Open brought the heat at the Tatsumi International Swimming Centre.
Situated after both the Kosuke Kitajima Cup and the Kirara Cup, the Konami Open holds extra significance in this Olympic year, giving both veterans and rising swimming stars within Japan additional chances to fine-tune their racing craft before the all-important Japan Swim.
Set for April, the Japan Swim represents the nation’s Olympic Trials and the sole qualification opportunity for athletes to qualify for a home nation-hosted 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
But also up for grabs here are sums of cash to the tune of a $275,000 prize to anyone who breaks a World Record at the meet. Also up for grabs is a prize worth $50,000 USD for any Japanese swimmer who produces a new national record at the meet.
Day One Highlights
Japanese IM queen Yui Ohashi easily defeated the field in the 400m IM, posting a gold medal-worthy time of 4:34.85. The World Championships bronze medalist stated post-race that she was hoping for a faster time, but was consoled at least by the fact her outing surpassed the previous Konami Open record of 4:34.99.
Ohashi currently ranks #2 in the world behind Hungary’s Iron Lady Katinka Hosszu in this women’s 400m IM event, owning season-best effort of 4:32.57 from the Queensland Championships in December.
The men’s 400m IM saw Ippei Miyamoto get to the wall first, stopping the clock in a time of 4:16.38. That gave the 20-year-old an almost 2-second advantage over next-closest competitor Yamaguchi Nanami, who touched in 4:18.28.
The gold medalist in this event at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Kosuke Hagino, was also in the field, finishing 4th in a time of 4:20.42.
Going back to Miyamoto, the man is not to be overlooked when examining potential Olympic qualifiers in this event. World champion Daiya Seto has already qualified in both IM events by way of his taking gold in Gwangju, but Miyamoto logged a time of 4:13.94 at the Japanese Student Championships last year to rank among the world’s top 10 this season.
Reona Aoki did damage in the women’s 50m breast event to open her meet, taking the gold in a time of 30.80. That dipped under the Konami Open Record of 30.96 and bumped her up to now rank among the top 10 performers in the world this season.
The women’s 200m free saw Rio Shirai put up a winning time of 1:58.21, while the aforementioned Seto put on a show in the men’s race by hitting the wall in 1:46.65.
Splitting 51.58/55.07, Seto beat the field by over a second en route to earning the fastest time of his ever-evolving career. Japan’s 5th fastest performer ever, Naito Ehara, was behind Seto in 1:47.76 tonight, with his outing sitting just outside 1 1/2 seconds his PB of 1:46.35 from 2018.
As for Seto, his 1:46.65 now slides him into the list of all-time Japanese performers at spot #7. He also enters the season’s world rankings list in spot #9.
Shirai returned to the wall to produce the only sub-minute time of the women’s 100m backstroke field. Touching in 59.83, Shirai earned a new meet record en route to topping the podium for a 2nd time this evening.
Her outing this evening fell within a half-second of her lifetime best of 59.42 from September of last year, a result which ranks Shrai as the 5th fastest Japanese performer all-time.
30-year-old veteran Ryosuke Irie rarely fails to impress, with the once-Team-Elite-trained Olympian powering his way to the wall in a big-time 52.99 in the men’s 100m backstroke. Irie crushed tonight’s field by over 2 seconds en route to collecting a new met record.
Irie turned 30 in January of this year and, on that very day, posted a time of 52.59 in this event at the Kosuke Kitajima Cup. That mark remains as the top time in the world at this moment.
The men’s 100m fly saw Takeshi Kawamoto post an impressive performance, logging a winning effort of 51.62. Splitting 23.86/27.76, 25-year-0ld Toyota swimmer Kawamoto scored a new meet record, as well as a new lifetime best.
Entering this meet Kawamoto’s personal best was represented by the 51.89 he delivered way back in 2015. However, his 51.62 from tonight now bumps him up to become Japan’s 6th fastest performer ever in the event.
Worldwide, Kawamoto is now the 7th fastest swimmer this season.
Shinri Shioura dipped under the 22-second threshold for what is becoming the norm for him. The national record holder stopped the clock tonight in 21.96, just shy of the 21.92 he produced at the FINA Swimming World Cup stop in Tokyo last fall.
The women’s 200m breast saw Kanako Watanabe get to the wall first, producing a time of 2:24.77. That edged out runner-up Aoki, tonight’s 50m breast champion, by just .04.
In the men’s race, 19-year-old Shoma Shato proved that his menacing 2:07.58 from last month wasn’t a fluke. The teen won tonight’s 200m breast in 2:08.25 for a time slower than before, but still enough to render the performance as his 2nd fastest ever. He is raising the stakes among possible Tokyo qualifiers Ippei Watanabe
Finally, to close out the night, Hirai Akira produced the fastest 1500m freestyle time of the field, scoring a new meet record of 14:58.03 to top the podium with ease. That outing came within 4 seconds of the national record and places him among the top 5 performers in the world this season.