Passages: Shintaro Yokochi, Father and Coach of Portuguese Olympic Finalist, 87

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Photo Courtesy: Chandler Brandes

Passages: Shintaro Yokochi, Father and Coach of Portuguese Olympic Finalist, 87

Shintaro Yokochi, a Japanese swimmer who became a renowned coach in Portugal, died this week at the age of 87. His death was announced by the Portuguese Swimming Federation on Sunday.

Yokochi’s man pupils included his son, Alexandre Yokochi, still the only swimmer from Portugal to reach an Olympic final when he did so in the 200 breaststroke in 1984. It was one of three Olympics at which the younger Yokochi swam.

Shintaro Yokochi was born in 1935 in Japan. He was nine years old and living in Hiroshima when he survived the atomic bomb blast there in 1945. Yokochi looked abroad in his adult life, after frustration with the process of selecting the Japanese team for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, which he briefly coached. At age 22, he looked to strike out on his own by coaching in Portugal. While working at Sport Alges e Dafundo outside of Lisbon, he met and married Irma Delgado. They had three children.

In 1969, Yokochi partnered with Portuguese soccer giant FC Porto to form the club’s training team. He made the jump in 1972 to Benfica. The long-time coach was also a businessman and restaurant owner in Lisbon.

His leading pupil was his own son, Alexandre, who reached the A final of the men’s 200 breast at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, placing seventh. He would win the B final in the 200 breast at the 1988 Games in Seoul, placing ninth overall, and also qualified for the Olympics in 1992. He remains the only Portuguese swimmer, male or female, to make an Olympic final. (Portugal first sent swimmers to the Olympics in 1924.) It would take until 2016 for another Portuguese swimmer (Alexis Santos in the men’s 200 individual medley) to earn a second swim at the Olympics, when he bowed out in semifinals in 12th.

Shintaro Yokochi also coached his son to gold in the 200 breast at the 1987 World University Games, silver in that event at the 1985 World University Games and silver at the 1985 European Championships. Alexandre Yokochi swam collegiately in the United States at Southern Illinois University and is a professor of mechanical engineering at Baylor University.

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