By Hideki Mochizuki, Swimming World Japanese correspondent
TOKYO, Japan, September 14. THE stars were out again at the Japanese Sports Festival at the Tatsumi Aquatic Center in Tokyo this evening. The meet, typically populated by youngsters making their marks, have had plenty of top Japanese swimmers in action in celebration of the city earning 2020 Summer Olympic hosting duties.
The top swim of the day went to Olympic bronze medalist Aya Terakawa, who won the women’s 100-meter backstroke in 59.54. She’s been much faster this year with a second-ranked 58.70 from the World Championships in Barcelona. Only Missy Franklin has been faster this year with a 58.39 also in Barcelona.
Four-time Olympic Champion Kosuke Kitajima clinched the men’s 100-meter breaststroke title in 1:00.51, his first time at the meet since competing at it eight year ago.
“I thought I could break 60 seconds but was lacking just enough training,” Kitajima said.
At this meet, swimmers represent their cities and not their clubs, similar to the provincial setup of the Chinese National Games. Kitajima is swimming for Tokyo glory, his home town.
“My winning time was not my top priority,” Kitajima said. “Winning and contributing to add points to Tokyo today was important, so my finish was good. We definitely want more people experiencing our sport. Young swimmers participating in this meet will lead the pack seven years from now. I will definitely support them!”
Shinri Shioura, who anchored Japan’s medal winning 400-meter medley relay during the final day of Worlds in Barcelona, captured the men’s 100-meter freestyle title in 48.84 today for a meet record.
Meanwhile, some of the high schoolers made an impact on this middle day of the meet. Emu Higuchi captured the women’s 400-meter IM age group title with a meet-record 4:40.14. Keita Sunama snared the men’s 400 IM age group crown in 4:17.20.
I’ll be back with highlights from the final day of the meet tomorrow.