New Olympic 400 IM Champ Will Be Crowned; Kosuke Hagino Opts Not to Defend Title

Kosuke Hagino
Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr

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New Olympic 400 IM Champ Will Be Crowned; Kosuke Hagino Opts Not to Defend Title

Based on the entry lists for the upcoming Japanese Olympic Trials, Kosuke Hagino will not seek to defend his Olympic title in the 400-meter individual medley. The 26-year-old is not entered in the event, opting instead to take on a schedule that features the 200 individual medley, 200 freestyle and 200 backstroke.

At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Hagino opened competition by claiming gold in the 400 medley in 4:06.05, a performance that bettered American Chase Kalisz (4:06.75) and Japan’s Daiya Seto (4:09.71). At this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo, though, someone new will stand atop the medals podium for the decathlon of the sport.

Hagino has had a rough five years since the Rio Games, as he has dealt with depression and even took a sabbatical from the sport at one point. While he has rekindled his drive and has put together some strong performances over the past few months, it is now apparent that the 400 medley is not part of his plans for the summer ahead.

The fact that Hagino will not contest the 400 medley does not dampen Japan’s hopes in the event, since Seto is the two-time defending world champion and considered the favorite for Olympic gold. As the reigning world champion, Seto was given an automatic bid to the Tokyo Games in the event, which leaves just one spot open at the Japanese Trials.

Although he has decided to skip the 400 individual medley, Hagino will still put his multi-stroke talent on display by racing the 200 medley at Trials. He was the silver medalist in that event at the 2016 Games. By racing the 200 backstroke, Hagino is set to square off with Ryosuke Irie, his country’s longtime star in the backstroke events.