Injury fails to slow Kitajima in victory

CHIBA (Kyodo) Reigning Olympic champion Kosuke Kitajima showed little effects of a recent injury to win the men’s 100-meter breaststroke on the opening day of the International Swim Meet 2007 in on Tuesday.

News photoJapan’s Kosuke Kitajima celebrates after winning the men’s 100-meter breaststroke in the International
Swim Meet in Japan at Chiba International Swim Center on Tuesday.

Kitajima, who sustained a torn abductor muscle last month, was ahead of world record pace until 20 meters left and touched the wall with a time of 59.74 seconds, 0.21 off his national record, at Chiba international swimming center.

Kitajima became the first breaststroke swimmer to clock under 1 minute in a pool in Japan and his time was 0.06 faster than the winning time American archrival Brendan Hansen produced at the world championships in Melbourne in March.

“I nearly gave up on (swimming in this meet) after the injury hit me a month ago. Now I’m relieved that I made it to this international meet in Japan and won this race,” Kitajima said.

The injury forced the 100 and 200 breaststroke champion at the 2004 Athens Olympics to miss a national-team training camp for the ongoing meet, which is being held a year before the Beijing Olympics.

South Korean teen phenom Park Tae Hwan moved in front in the final 100 meters to claim the 400 freestyle title in 3:44.77. In women’s events, Australia’s Bronte Barratt led from start to finish to won the 400 freestyle in 4:05.93. Japan’s Ai Shibata, the 800-meter Olympic gold medalist, settled for fourth in 4:07.68.