• Kyodo

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Kosuke Kitajima, Japan’s gold medal hope at this summer’s Athens Olympics, outpaced world bronze medalist James Gibson of England to win the men’s 100-meter breaststroke at the European Grand Prix meet in Spain on Thursday.

Kitajima, who owns the world record of 59.78 seconds, led from start to finish and touched the wall in 1:01.11, beating European champion Oleg Lisogor of Ukraine by 0.22 second. Genki Imamura, who won the 200 breast, in which Kitajima did not compete, was fourth.

“The time might not have been impressive, but it was a big step forward for me,” said Kitajima.

“Today’s race was my first step on the road to Athens. I hope to do as well in Rome,” said Kitajima, who will take part in the 100 and 200 breaststroke at the two-day meet which begins Saturday.

Also, Takeshi Matsuda, who won the 200 butterfly on Wednesday, picked up his third title in as many events when he cruised to victory in the men’s 1,500 freestyle, in which he holds the national record. Matsuda also won the 400 freestyle in 3:50.73.

Tomomi Morita won the men’s 100 backstroke in 55.10, Reiko Nakamura captured the women’s 100 backstroke title with a time of 1:01.45 and Jiro Miki prevailed in the men’s 400 individual medley in 4:19.93.

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