Shoma Sato Positioned For Run at 200 Breaststroke World Record at Japanese Olympic Trials

Shoma Sato

Shoma Sato Well-Positioned For Run at 200 Breaststroke World Record at Japanese Olympic Trials

It has been up-and-down week for Shoma Sato at the Japanese Olympic Trials. While the rising star qualified for the Olympic Games in Tokyo as part of Japan’s medley relay, he missed out on an individual bid in the 100-meter breaststroke since his time in the final didn’t hit the highly difficult standard set by the Japanese Federation. Making matters harder to accept was the fact that Sato’s semifinal time would have gotten the job done.

On Tuesday, Sato shifted his attention to his best event, the 200 breaststroke, and the outcome was a strong effort in the preliminary round. Cruising through his heat, Sato produced a time of 2:10.86 for the third-fastest outing of the morning. Only Ryuya Mura (2:09.80) and Kaede Hirakawa (2:09.95) were faster than Sato, who clearly has much more to show in the semifinals and final.

Sato has been under the 2:07 barrier on multiple occasions this year and, as an athlete with better distance prowess than speed, a run at Russian Anton Chupkov’s world record of 2:06.12 is not out of the question. Sato is one of only five men to ever crack the 2:07 threshold, along with Chupkov, Australia’s Matthew Wilson, countryman Ippei Watanabe and Dutchman Arno Kamminga. Chupkov is currently racing at the Russian Olympic Trials.

In the men’s 100 freestyle, Akira Namba registered the only sub-49 performance of the preliminaries when he touched the wall in 48.90. He was followed in second by Katsumi Nakamura (49.37) while Shinri Shioura was next in 49.47.

Only a second separated the top eight performers in the prelims of the women’s 200 butterfly, where Kotomi Yamagishi earned the top seed for the semifinals behind a swim of 2:10.47. The next-fastest time was notched by Suzuka Hasegawa (2:10.87).

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