Rio 400IM Champion Kosuke Hagino Confirms His Retirement From Swimming

Kosuke Hagino
Kosuke Hagino: Photo Courtesy: Joao Marc Bosch

Kosuke Hagino has announced his retirement following a career in which he claimed four Olympic medals, including 400IM gold at Rio 2016.

The Japanese swimmer said in August that he planned to finish swimming and on Sunday he confirmed his intentions.

Hagino told a press conference in Tokyo:

“I’d decided that my last race would be at the Tokyo Olympics.

“I’m amazingly happy and have no regrets. When it came to bringing it to an end, I had a strong inner resolve.”

The 27-year-old, who now plans to go to graduate school, added:

“I really think I did well. I feel liberated now and I am content with myself. I want to give myself a pat on the back.

“I want to try a lot of things. I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my life.”


Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

Hagino won five medals at the 2011 World Junior Championships in Lima, Peru, including 200IM gold ahead of Andreas Vazaios, who went on to become European champion in 2016.

He made his senior international breakthrough at the London Olympics a year later where he won bronze in the 400IM behind Ryan Lochte and Thiago Pereira.

There were two silver medals at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona, Spain, in the 400 free – behind China’s now-banned Sun Yang – and 200IM.

Come 2014 and it was a medal-laden year for Hagino.

There were five medals at the Pan-Pacific Championships on Gold Coast, Australia, including golds in both medleys with victory in the 200IM by just 0.02 ahead of Michael Phelps with team-mate Daiya Seto third.

Little more than a month later and Hagino went on to claim four gold, one silver and one bronze medal at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

He was named World Swimmer of the Year but there was disappointment in 2015 when he was forced to miss the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, after falling off his bike and breaking his elbow during the Japan team’s training camp in France.

Come 2016 and Olympic year and Hagino reached the pinnacle of his career in Rio when he won the 400IM in 4:06.05, an Asian record that stands today.

Kosuke Hagino (photo: Mike Lewis)

Photo Courtesy: MIKE LEWIS / ISL

There was silver in the short medley behind Phelps and bronze in the men’s 4×200 freestyle, where he led off the quartet.

Silver in the 200IM at the 2017 worlds in Budapest was followed by two seconds and one third place at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.

Hagino was struggling with depression and cited a lack of motivation and little desire to compete which eventually prompted him to withdraw from the trials for the World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea.

He announced in June that year that he would commit to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and continued even after it was delayed by a year because of the pandemic.

Come 2021 and Hagino opted out of the 400IM at the national trials.

At the Olympics he finished sixth in the 200IM and swam third as the Japanese 4×200 free relay finished 12th.

Hagino posted to Instagram, thanking his friends, family, coaches and sponsors for their support through the “good times and bad times”.

Among the tributes came one from James Guy, who won double relay gold in Tokyo, with the Briton saying:

“All the best my man. You are one of the nicest people I have ever met in my life, and were a privilege to race against. Bless you and your family and when I come to Japan. Sushi!”