Shoma Sato Cruises to 200 Breaststroke Title at Japan Open; Rikako Ikee Prevails in 100 Butterfly

Shoma Sato
Photo Courtesy: MIKE LEWIS/ISL

Shoma Sato Cruises to 200 Breaststroke Title at Japan Open; Rikako Ikee Prevails in 100 Butterfly

The final session of the four-day Japan Open provided Japanese athletes with their latest tuneup chances before next month’s home Olympic Games open in Tokyo. Taking advantage of the racing opportunity was Shoma Sato, one of the leading contenders for the gold medal in the 200-meter breaststroke.

Expected to vie for gold against the likes of Russian Anton Chupkov and Dutchman Arno Kamminga, Sato won the 200 breaststroke in Chiba in 2:08.32, with Yu Hanaguruma also dipping under the 2:09 barrier with an effort of 2:08.95. Sato was out in 29.10 and came through the midway point of the race in 1:01.54. Sato was 1:34.70 at the third turn and held off Hanaguruma down the last lap.

Leukemia survivor Rikako Ikee, who has qualified for relay duty at the Olympics, prevailed in the 100 butterfly in 58.03, a time that held off runnerup Suzuka Hasegawa (58.59).On the men’s side, victory in the 100 fly went to Naoki Mizunuma in 51.17. Meanwhile, Kanako Watanabe was the winner of the women’s 200 breaststroke in 2:24.61.

Coming off a win earlier in the weekend in the 100 backstroke, veteran Ryosuke Irie topped the field in the 200 backstroke with a mark of 1:55.97, a little more than a half-second quicker than the 1:56.62 of Kosuke Hagino. In third place was Keita Sunama in 1:56.85.

Other winners included Chihiro Igarashi (25.10) and Koshiro Sakai (22.08) in the 50 freestyle events and Anna Konishi (2:11.60) in the women’s 200 backstroke.

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