ATHENS – Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima blew American rival Brendan Hansen out of the water to claim a historic breaststroke gold double, while diminutive Yuko Nakanishi came up with a butterfly bronze in swimming at the Athens Games on Wednesday.
Centre in Athens on Wednesday. Kitajima won in 2 minutes, 9.44 seconds to claim his second gold medal of the Games.
Noriko Anno of Japan reacts after beating Liu Xia of China to win the gold medal in the
women’s 78-kg judo event on Thursday.
Meanwhile, four-time judo world champion Noriko Anno secured Olympic gold Thursday in the women’s 78-kg class, defeating Liu Xia by ippon. Her win gives Japan a record six judo gold medals from the Athens Games.
Anno, who had failed to win a medal at the previous two Olympics in Atlanta and Sydney, flipped her Chinese rival to the mat to give Japan’s women their fourth judo gold in Athens.
In the pool, Kitajima underlined his dominance as he outpaced world record holder Hansen for the second time in four days to clinch the gold medal in the men’s 200-meter breaststroke with another supercharged performance.
Kitajima, who also beat Hansen in the 100-meter breast Sunday, was off the blocks like lightning and led from start to finish before touching home in an Olympic record 2 minutes, 9.44 seconds.
Hansen, who smashed Kitajima’s world records last month in both the 100 and 200 meters at the U.S. Olympic trials, finished a distant third for bronze in 2:10.87, with Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta grabbing the silver in 2:10.80.
Victory meant the 21-year-old Kitajima became the first-ever Japanese swimmer to claim two gold medals at one Olympic Games.
“For the last year, winning these two races has been my only goal, and to achieve it is fantastic. I have never been so happy in my life,” Kitajima said.
“By finishing third in the semifinals, I was able to put pressure on Hansen and Gyurta in this race. I kept my cool, and it was a bit easier than the 100 event, as I could see what the other swimmers around me were doing.”
Nakanishi may have been the shortest swimmer in the 200 butterfly final, but she delivered a giant performance down the final 50 meters to edge American Kaitlin Sandeno for the bronze in 2:08.04.
“I can’t believe it,” said Nakanishi, unable to hold back tears of joy after the race.
“I knew the crunch would be in the final 50 meters, and I just went for it. I wasn’t worried about my time. I just wanted to get a medal, so I’m absolutely delighted,” added the 23-year-old, who won bronze at last year’s world championships in Barcelona.
Towering world record holder Otylia Jedrzejczak of Poland won the gold in 2:06.05, and Australian Petria Thomas added silver to the golds she won in the 100 butterfly and 4 x 100 freestyle relay in 2:06.36. Sandeno clocked 2:08.18 for fourth.
Elsewhere, Takahiro Mori finished fourth in his semifinal heat in 2:00.57 and advanced to the men’s 200-meter individual medley final, as did Jiro Miki in 2:01.09.
Tomomi Morita, who claimed bronze in the men’s 100 backstroke Monday, qualified for 200 final with a time of 1:59.52 in the semis, with Masami Tanaka making the women’s 200-meter breaststroke final after clocking 2:26.38.
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