2016 Olympic Gold Medalist Kosuke Hagino Retiring from Swimming After Third Olympics

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Kosuke Hagino -- Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu / ISL

2016 Olympic Gold Medalist Kosuke Hagino Retiring from Swimming After Third Olympics

Japan’s Kosuke Hagino, the last male swimmer from the country to capture individual Olympic gold in swimming, will retire following his third Olympic appearance, this one in his home country, last month. Hagino, 27, was the Olympic gold medalist in the 400 IM and silver medalist in the 200 IM at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. According to Kyodo News, Hagino has told his team of his decision, and he is considering attending graduate school.

Hagino finished sixth in the 200 IM at the Tokyo Olympics, ending up more than a second outside of the medal chase. He decided long beforehand not to attempt a defense of his 400 IM gold medal, leaving that event for countryman and three-time world champion Daiya Seto to try to pursue a second straight Japanese gold, but Seto finished a shocking ninth in the event.

Hagino first gained international attention when he captured Olympic bronze in the 400 IM as an 18-year-old at the 2012 London Olympics. Hagino finished behind only Ryan Lochte and Thiago Pereira in that final, edging out two-time defending gold medalist Michael Phelps for bronze. Hagino won two silver medals the following year at the World Championships, in the 400 free and 200 IM, but after he led the 400 IM final for most of the race, he faded badly on the last 50 and ended up fifth.

In 2014, Hagino was named Swimming World’s Male World Swimmer of the Year after he won two gold medals (200 IM and 400 IM) plus three silver medals (200 free, 400 free and 800 free relay) at the Pan Pacific Championships and then seven medals, including four golds, at the Asian Games. He was projected to be one of the top swimmers of the 2015 FINA World Championships, but he broke his arm and missed the meet.

Hagino’s finest moments came at the Rio Olympics, when he held off Chase Kalisz to win gold in the men’s 400 IM and then pulled away from all non-Phelps swimmers in the race to take silver in the 200 IM, and he also helped Japan to a bronze medal in the 800 free relay. A year later, Hagino took silver in the 200 IM at the World Championships, but he faded to sixth in the 400 IM. That 200 IM silver would be his last medal at a major international competition, although he would win two medals at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships and then four medals, including one gold, at the 2018 Asian Games.

After a down year in 2019, he competed for the Tokyo Frog Kings in the ISL in 2020 and then qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, but he would never recover his peak form. Hagino finishes his career as the fourth-fastest performer in history in both the 200 IM (1:55.07) and 400 IM (4:06.05).

Read the full report about Hagino’s retirement from Kyodo News here.