Takeshi Matsuda and Takashi Yamamoto both qualified for this summer’s Athens Olympics by finishing first and second, respectively, in the men’s 200-meter butterfly final at the swimming national championships on Friday. Matsuda came from behind to outpace national record holder Yamamoto in the final 50 meters of the race at Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center and capture his first national title in the discipline with a time of 1 minute, 56.14 seconds. Yamamoto settled for second after clocking 1:56.26 and will be making his third straight Olympic appearance in August. Makoto Muto took third in 1:57.46. The 19-year-old Matsuda, who rewrote a Japan record in the 1,500-meter freestyle a day earlier by clocking 15:09.52, also won the 1,500 freestyle final in 15:15.00. In the women’s 800 freestyle final, Sachiko Yamada, who set a Japanese record of 8:28.77 at the 2002 Asian Games in South Korea, shaved over five seconds off her national record with a winning time of 8:23.68. Yamada, who claimed her seventh consecutive national title, and Ai Shibata, who finished second in 8:27.61, earned their tickets to Athens by clearing the Olympic qualifying standard set by the Japan Swimming Federation.
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