Kosuke Hagino will not defend Olympic 400m IM title

Kosuke Hagino
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Swimmer Kosuke Hagino will not defend his Olympic 400m individual medley title, entering three other events at Japan’s Olympic Trials that start next week.

Hagino registered for the 200m freestyle, 200m backstroke and 200m individual medley at the Olympic Trials, ceding eligibility for the 400m IM, his agent confirmed Tuesday.

In 2016, Hagino won the 400m IM, traditionally the first Olympic swimming final, to end a streak of five consecutive gold medals for American men in the event (Tom DolanMichael Phelps and Ryan Lochte).

Hagino’s winning time, 4:06.05, is faster than all but one 400m IM swum in this Olympic cycle. American Chase Kalisz won the 2017 World title in 4:05.90, a year after taking silver behind Hagino in Rio.

Hagino was sixth in the 400m IM at 2017 Worlds, then withdrew from Japan’s qualifying for the 2019 World Championships, citing a lack of desire to compete.

He returned to competition later in 2019 after five months away.

Of Hagino’s three events for next month’s trials, he is historically best at the 200m IM. Hagino earned Rio Olympic silver in that event, plus won the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships over a field that included Phelps and Lochte.

At that time, Hagino was arguably the world’s best all-around swimmer, then came back from a broken right elbow suffered in a 2015 bike accident for Olympic gold in 2016.

Hagino was Japan’s first Olympic champion of the Rio Games. Though he will miss the first day of medal competition in Tokyo, the men’s 400m IM could still produce Japan’s first gold medalist in any sport at its home Games.

That’s because countryman Daiya Seto is the reigning world champion in the event.

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