Olympics, Swimming: Flash Kosuke Kitajima Wins Gold in World-Record Time in 100 Breast; Posts First 58 Time in History

By John Lohn

BEIJING, China, August 11. MAKE it two in a row for Kosuke Kitajima, and this one in world-record time. The defending Olympic champion in the 100 breaststroke turned in a barrier-breaking performance en route to retaining his gold medal, touching the wall in 58.91 for the first sub-59 outing the sport has seen in the breast.

Clocking in the mid-59 range during the preliminaries and semifinals, Kitajima saved his best for the most important time. Turning in third place in 28.03, Kitajima blazed through the last 50 meters in 30.88 to break the world mark of 59.13, held by Brendan Hansen since 2006. Kitajima now owns both breaststroke records, something he hasn't done since 2004.

"The Olympic Games are something enjoyable for me," Kitajima said. "I feel really happy to have this moment again. In the first half, I was relaxed and swam with big strokes. I knew that the last five to 10 meters would be the decisive part, so in the first part I wanted to keep my energy. My race went as I had planned."

The pacesetter during the first two rounds, Norway's Alexander Dale Oen picked up the silver medal in 59.20, just off the 59.16 he clocked in the semifinals. Oen was able to hold off a hard-charging Hugues Duboscq of France, who grabbed the bronze medal with a mark of 59.37. Duboscq was seventh at the 50-meter mark, but passed Hansen heading into the wall. Hansen, the silver medalist four years ago, was fourth in 59.57.

Australia's Brenton Rickard was fifth in 59.74 and Russia's Roman Sludnov took sixth with a time of 59.87. Ukrainian Igor Borysik (1:00.20) and American Mark Gangloff (1:00.24) rounded out the field.