TOKYO, Japan, November 13. AFTER a disappointing summer in the pool, Takeshi Matsuda is returning to Yumiko Kuze, the coach that helped guide him to two Olympic bronze medals in the 200 butterfly.
After winning his second consecutive bronze medal in the 200 fly at the London Olympics in a close race with eventual winner Chad Le Clos and runner-up Michael Phelp, Matsuda moved to Team Hirai to work with national team head coach Norimasa Hirai and his crop of talented elite swimmers that included Kosuke Hagino and Aya Terakawa. This move came despite many years of success under Yumiko Kuze, including a 200 fly bronze in the 2008 Olympics and a near upset in the 200 fly at the 2011 world championships, where he almost beat Phelps for gold.
Matsuda was unable to replicate last year’s Olympic success — which included a silver medal in the medley relay — in 2013, placing 11th in the 200 butterfly at the world championships. He was also unable to get on the podium at the National Sports Festival, regarded as one of Japan’s most prestigious meets of the year.
Matsuda, 29, told Asahi News that he’s been working with Kuze for about a week. The brief time together seems to be paying off. Matsuda placed third in the 200 fly at last week’s Tokyo stop on the World Cup tour with a 1:51.55, his first time on an international podium since London.
Matsuda also said he’ll continue to get occasional guidance from Hirai in the lead-up to the Rio Olympics, where Matsuda will look to get a step or two higher on the medal podium.
Special thanks to Takahisa Ide for this news.
Full text of Asahi article (in Japanese)