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Kitajima preparing for nationals

Kyodo

Japan breaststroke legend Kosuke Kitajima revealed Thursday that he will enter both the 100 and 200 meters at the upcoming national championships.

Kitajima, who won Olympic gold in each event at the 2004 Athens Games and repeated that feat four years later in Beijing, said reaching the finals in the 100 meters will be his priority at April’s national championships. The meet will be held at Tokyo’s Tatsumi International Swimming Center from April 10 to April 13.

“I’m going to be in it (the 100) so I want to avoid losing in the qualifying heats,” Kitajima said.

From the middle of March, the 31-year-old has been training in Tokyo with his chief breaststroke rival, London 200-meter bronze medalist Ryo Tateishi.

“By doing this together, we each push the other, but I also wanted him (Tateishi), too, to give his best,” Kitajima said of their unusual joint practices.

The national championships will double as a qualifying event for the national team to this autumn’s Asia Games in Incheon, South Korea. Kitagawa, whose focus has long been on international competitions, said he will do his best in Tokyo.

“This is a little different for me, so it may be hard to find my motivation, but as long as I’m going to be there, I’m going to prepare for it,” he said.