Reigning Olympic 400-meter individual medley champion Kosuke Hagino will not defend his gold medal in the event at the Tokyo Games this summer, choosing to focus on other races, sources familiar with the matter said Friday.
The 26-year-old, who won the 400 IM at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, has pulled out of the event at the April 3-10 national championships, which serve as Japanese Olympic team trials.
Having initially planned to contest five events at nationals, Hagino has trimmed his schedule to three — the 200 IM, for which he won silver in Rio, the 200 freestyle and the 200 backstroke.
The Tochigi Prefecture native hinted at the possibility of dropping the 400 IM, considered one of the most grueling events in swimming, during an interview on Tuesday.
“It’s not an event you can enter unless you feel fully committed,” said Hagino, who struggled with his physical condition after the Rio Games and sat out the 2019 season.
Daiya Seto has automatically qualified for the men’s 400-meter IM at the Tokyo Games after winning at the 2019 world championships, leaving one other berth for a Japanese swimmer.
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