Kosuke Kitajima, breaststroke king, could make fifth Olympic team

Kosuke Kitajima
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Kosuke Kitajima, who swept the breaststrokes at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, finished second in the 100m breaststroke at the Japanese Championships on Tuesday and could make his fifth Olympic team.

Kitajima, 33, clocked 59.93 seconds as runner-up to Yasuhiro Koseki‘s 59.66, but both fell shy of the Japanese Olympic qualifying standard of 59.63 at a meet being billed as an Olympic trials by swimming media.

However, Kitajima clocked 59.62 as the fastest man in the semifinals Monday, making him the only man to meet the Japanese Olympic qualifying standard.

Kyodo News and Agence France-Presse reported that Koseki and Kitajima’s efforts in the final were not enough to secure either a Rio berth.

“I’m speechless,” Kitajima said, according to AFP. “It’s just so upsetting I couldn’t swim my usual race. I was thinking too much and swam a negative race. It’s my own problem, I’m gutted. I need to go and cool my head and come back ready for the 200 [breaststroke].”

Adding to the confusion is the fact that if Japan wants to enter the 4x100m medley relay in Rio, they will need a 100m breaststroker. The Japanese took silver in the event at the 2012 Olympics, with Kitajima, and sixth at the 2015 World Championships without him.

Kitajima’s semifinal time was his fastest since 2012 and swifter than all three of his swims at the London Games, where he finished a disappointing fifth in the 100m breast.

Kitajima failed to make the 2015 World Championships after finishing third in the 100m breast at last year’s Japan Championships. He was sixth in the 100m breast at the 2013 World Championships.

Kitajima could become the first breaststroker to swim in five Olympics, according to Olympic historian Bill Mallon, MD, of OlympStats.com.

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2022 Ironman Kona World Championships results

Ironman Kona World Championships
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2022 Ironman Kona World Championship top-10 results and notables (full, searchable pro and age group results are here) …

Pro Women
1. Chelsea Sodaro (USA) — 8:33:46
2. Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR) — 8:41:37
3. Anne Haug (GER) — 8:42:22
4. Laura Philipp (GER) — 8:50:31
5. Lisa Norden (SWE) — 8:54:43
6. Fenella Langridge (GBR) — 8:56:26
7. Sarah Crowley (AUS) — 9:01:58
8. Daniela Ryf (SUI) — 9:02:26
9. Skye Moench (USA) — 9:04:31
10. Laura Siddall (GBR) — 9:07:49
16. Heather Jackson (USA) — 9:22:17
DNF. Sarah True (USA)

Pro Men
Race is on Saturday, live on Peacock at 12 p.m. ET.

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Chelsea Sodaro wins Ironman Kona World Championship, ends American drought

Chelsea Sodaro
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Chelsea Sodaro was the surprise winner of the Ironman Kona World Championships women’s race, ending the longest American victory drought in the event’s 44-year history.

Sodaro, a 33-year-old mom to an 18-month-old, prevailed in an unofficial 8 hours, 33 minutes, 46 seconds on Hawaii’s Big Island.

“My mind is a little bit blown right now,” she said in a finish area interview 25 minutes later, standing next to her daughter, Skylar. “This is the culmination of things being right in my life and having perspective. … This is freakin’ incredible, but the greatest gift at the end of the finish line is my little 18-month-old.”

Sodaro was in fifth place after the 2.6-mile swim and 112-mile bike, then recorded one of the fastest 26.2-mile marathon runs in event history (2:51:45) to win by 7 minutes, 50 seconds over Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay.

Swiss Daniela Ryf, who was eyeing her sixth Ironman world title, led after the bike but faded quickly on the run.

MORE: Ironman Kona Race Results

Sodaro, whose lone previous full Ironman was a second-place finish at June’s European Championships (reportedly in the second-fastest Ironman distance debut in history), became the first American to win in Kona since Tim DeBoom in 2002 and the first American to win the women’s race since Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser in 1996.

She is the first woman or man to win in their Kona debut since Brit Chrissie Wellington took the first of her four titles in 2007.

Sodaro (née Reilly) was an All-America runner at Cal, then placed 19th in the 10,000m at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.

She turned to triathlon in 2017, made podiums on the World Cup circuit (just below the top-level World Series for Olympic hopefuls) and moved up to long-distance racing in 2018.

At the half Ironman distance, she was fourth at the 2019 World Championships, her last major championship start before the pandemic, pregnancy, childbirth and a move up to the full Ironman this year.

“I’m pretty stoked that I think I maybe get to take the rest of the year off and be a mom for a month or so,” Sodaro said.

The pro men’s race is Saturday, live on Peacock at 12 p.m. ET.

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