Kitajima Proves Asians Can Be a Force in Swimming -- September 11, 2004
TOKYO, Japan, September 11. JAPANESE breaststroker Kosuke Kitajima said yesterday his two gold medals at the Olympics have helped show that Japan is a world-class swimming force, per reports in the Malaysia Star.
Kitajima was the first Japanese gold medalist in 16 years, winning both the 100m and 200m breaststroke at Athens.
Though his 100 win was controversial based on a questionable movement of his feet off the start and turn, he appeared particularly cognizant of that concern when swimming the 200. Underwater camera views eliminated any question of improper turn technique in his 200 victory. It was absolutely clean.
The 21-year-old 2003 double world champion seems on a quest to inspire swimming in Japan to compete consistently at the highest levels. He said he believes his performance will convince people at home and abroad that Japanese swimmers are among the world's best. “I think it has made people realize that Japan is able to compete at a world-class level,'' he said.
“I want to show, especially kids here, that Japanese can compete.''
The Star quoted analysts to suggest Japan’s fine history of producing breaststrokers is principally because that stroke relies heavily on technique rather than stature and physique, analysts say.
Olympic men's swim gold had escaped Japan since Daichi Suzuki’s surprise win over then world record holder American David Berkoff in the 100m backstroke in 1988.
Kitajima set world records in the 100m and 200m breaststroke at the World Swimming Championships in Barcelona last year, but they were later broken by US swimmer Brendan Hansen. He wants the records back. “Next, I'd like to regain the world records,'' said Kitajima.