can set 200m alight at Tokyo 2020, says Kitajima
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[July 31, 2017]
By Rod Gilmour
BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Kosuke Kitajima
believes the men's 200 meters breaststroke final will be "one of the
biggest races to watch" at the Tokyo Olympics if Britain's Adam
Peaty steps up to take on a dual Japanese challenge at the distance.
Breaststroke master Kitajima secured Japan's legacy in the
discipline when he won gold in the men's individual 100 and 200m at
back-to-back Olympics in 2004 and 2008.
The 34-year-old retired after failing to qualify for Rio but was
present on Friday as Yasuhiro Koseki and Ippei Watanabe won world
championship silver and bronze respectively in the longer distance.
"Once I left swimming and the two Japanese boys came up and did
well, that was a source of pride for me," Kitajima told Reuters.
"It's the first time they medaled at an international competition
and great for their confidence. It makes me incredibly happy and for
me it's really about what the actual time will be when Tokyo comes."
With their 200m prospects enhanced in Budapest, the Japanese duo
could now face one of swimming's hottest talents in the run-up to
the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Peaty won 50m and 100m individual gold in Budapest and hinted that
he would start to focus seriously on the 200m during this Olympic
cycle, saying he was ready to "branch out".
"The long term goal is Tokyo," he told British media. "I don't want
to jeopardize anything but I don't think it will be too hard and I
won't have to change my training."
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Adam Peaty of Britain reacts after winning the race. REUTERS/Michael
The branching out could start as early as December
when the 22-year-old Briton is likely to compete in the Commonwealth
"When I saw Adam do the 50 and 100m, it was incredible," Kitajima
"If he does swim in the 200 then that is something Japanese fans can
look forward to. I don't think we have a chance in the 100, but
maybe in the 200. It will definitely be one of the biggest races to
Watanabe, who owns the 200m breaststroke world record, underlined
the symbolic importance of the event after winning his Budapest
"It is supposed to be a big strong point of Japanese swimming," the
20-year-old told Reuters.
"I didn't medal at Rio and I feel the need to medal now. I want to
be the Adam Peaty of the 200 breaststroke."
(Reporting by Rod Gilmour, editing by Nick Mulvenney)
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