SWIMMING: Schoolboy breaks 200m breaststroke world record
TOKYO: Japan's precocious 18-year-old Akihiro Yamaguchi set a new world record in the men's 200m breaststroke yesterday, then vowed to be the next Kosuke Kitajima.
The high-school student clocked 2 mins 07.01 secs, breaking the previous world mark of 2:07.28s set by Daniel Gyurta of Hungary on Aug 1 at the London Olympics.
"To tell the truth, I targeted to clock 2:06:00s," Yamaguchi said after his record-breaking swim at the national games in Gifu, central Japan, adding that he was eager to show off his talent on the world stage.
"I'm really looking forward to the world championships next year. I want to be a swimmer who can succeed Kitajima, whom I admire a lot," he added.
Yamaguchi failed to qualify for the Olympic 100m and 200m races after he finished third over both distances in the national championships, which were won by two-time double Olympic gold medallist Kitajima.
However, Kitajima, 29, did not win a medal in the 100m and 200m breaststroke in London.
Yamaguchi came close to Gyurta's 200m world mark when he swam 2:07.84s at a national high-school meet on Aug 17.
"Since I started working under the wing of coach Norimasa Hirai, I became stronger mentally and my body became bigger. I think I can compete against the world in the 200 metres. I also want to compete in the 100 metres," he said.
"At the moment I started the race, I felt 'I made it'. I felt I was fine during the warm-up, so I had thought I would be able to rewrite my personal best," said Yamaguchi, who started swimming at the age of four.
"I'm really happy about it, but I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't cut the 2:07:00," he added.
Yamaguchi sprang to prominence when he rewrote the 100m breaststroke Japanese high-school record and then went on to take the 100m and 200m titles at the world junior championships in July. AFP