Kosuke Kitajima, Alicia Coutts fail to make World Championships teams

Kosuke Kitajima

Japan’s most decorated swimmer of all time and Australia’s most decorated athlete across all sports at the 2012 Olympics both failed to make their World Swimming Championships teams.

Kosuke Kitajima, who swept the breaststrokes at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, finished third in the 100m breast at the Japanese Championships on Wednesday. A nation can send no more than two swimmers per individual event to the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, in August.

Kitajima did not enter the 200m breast at the Japanese Championships. That means the four-time Olympian Kitajima, 32, will likely miss his second World Championships since 1998. The other absence was 2009, when Kitajima took a break from swimming.

“I fell just like cherry blossom petals,” Kitajima said, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun. “I was sure that I could finish within the qualifying time, and I still believe I can compete [at the top level].”

Alicia Coutts, who won an Australian-leading five medals at the 2012 Olympics, may retire after failing to make the World Championships team, according to Australian media.

Coutts, 27, finished third in the 100m butterfly at the Australian Championships. She is the reigning Olympic bronze medalist and Worlds silver medalist in the event. She did not enter the 200m individual medley, an event in which she won silver at the 2011 and 2013 Worlds and 2012 Olympics.

She also finished sixth in the 100m freestyle but did not earn a spot on the 4x100m free relay team for Worlds (full Australian team here).

Coutts competed after suffering a serious shoulder injury.

“I was going to retire 12 weeks ago, so I am lucky to be here,” Coutts said Sunday, according to The Australian Associated Press. “I went kind of AWOL, so I really only started training at the first of January.”

Australia Olympic Committee backs 2028 Olympic bid

Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

Derrick Mein

Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

Mo Farah

British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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