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Kitajima misses out

Olympic champ comes fourth in 100 breaststroke

by Hiroki Noda

Kyodo

Swim king Kosuke Kitajima finished outside the medals after placing fourth in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke at the world swimming championships on Monday.

The two-time double Olympic champion never really got going in the final at Oriental Sports Center’s indoor pool and came home with a disappointing time of 1 minute, 0.03 seconds.

Norwegian Alexander Dale Oen, who had the fastest time in the semifinals, won the gold medal in 58.71. Italy’s Fabio Scozzoli won the silver in 59.42 while South African Cameron van der Burgh took the bronze in 59.49.

“I didn’t feel that bad but it is not good that I wasn’t able to do what I am really capable of doing,” said Kitajima. “I wasn’t able to deliver a result and that shows that I still have weaknesses.”

“He (Dale Oen) is tough and has a strong spirit. He is a swimmer I respect and right now I am no match for him. I have to work out from now how I am going to beat him,” added the 28-year-old.

Kitajima’s time was worse than in the heats (59.96) and the semifinals (59.77), both held a day earlier.

“This is the first time in a while that the outcome was completely different from my pre-race scenario,” Kitajima said. “If I get a chance to race against him next year, I have to make him think I’m still in the mix. He’s perfect. He’s now somewhere else and a class above us.”

Dale Oen, who finished second behind Kitajima in the 100 at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, won the gold for his terror-hit country.

“It’s very special,” he said when asked how special his gold medal is after the mass shooting and bombing in Norway. “I tried not to think that much of what happened back home, but it’s quite impossible. It’s very hard. Very hard.”

On Kitajima, Dale Oen said, “Kosuke is a great inspiration to me. He is one of the few guys who really set the new standards for breaststroke swimming. Even though he didn’t make the podium today, I’m quite sure he’ll be very strong at the next Olympic Games.”

In the men’s 100-meter backstroke semifinals, Ryosuke Irie qualified for Tuesday’s medal race with the second-fastest time of 53.05 seconds, while 2009 champion Junya Koga did not advance after slumping to 14th in 54.16.

“I couldn’t get anything going,” Koga said. “I don’t know why. I can’t do what I’ve done in practice. I’ll review my daily training. I might focus on the quality of training and have just one session a day, instead of two at present.”

High school swimmer Yuki Kobori (1:48.65) finished last in the 16-man semifinals of the star-studded 200 freestyle featuring Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Paul Biedermann and Park Tae Hwan.

Brazil’s Cesar Cielo, who escaped a drugs ban last week that would rule him out of the championships, won the 50-meter butterfly in 23.10.

On the women’s side, top-ranked Aya Terakawa (59.81) barely qualified for the eight-woman 100 backstroke final, while Shiho Sakai (59.94) was ninth.