Kosuke Kitajima, the most decorated breaststroker of all time, retired after failing to automatically qualify for a fifth Japanese Olympic team on Friday, according to several Japanese media reports.
Kitajima, who swept the breaststrokes at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, finished fifth in the 200m breaststroke at the Japanese Olympic Trials in his last shot at automatic selection.
“It’s over,” Kitajima said, according to Agence France-Presse. “I knew my career would end in Rio or here in Tokyo this week. I’ve got no regrets.”
Kitajima, 33, was second in the 100m breaststroke on Tuesday but didn’t meet Japan’s Olympic qualifying standard time in the final. Nor did the first-place finisher.
Kitajima had the fastest 100m breast time at the trials, meeting the standard in the semifinals, but that wasn’t enough for automatic selection.
If Japan wants to enter the 4x100m medley relay in Rio, it will need a 100m breaststroker. The Japanese took silver in the medley relay at the 2012 Olympics, with Kitajima, and sixth at the 2015 World Championships without him.
Kitajima is stronger in the 100m breast than the 200m breast. He made the 2013 Worlds team in the 100m breast but not the 200m breast and failed to make the 2015 Worlds team altogether.