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Kitajima Back But Not As We Knew Him

Dec 4, 2006  - Craig Lord

You could hardly say "he's back" after a 1:01.13sec effort over 100m breaststroke at the Asian Games in Doha but Kosuke Kitajima did enough to win and to restore pride wounded during what has been a fallow year for the double Olympic champion.

On a better day for Japan, Kitajima turned ahead at 50m, in 28.71 and stayed there, teammate Makoto Yamashita, getting closest to him by the end, on 1:01.50, with the 50m champion Vladislav Polyakov of Kazakstan third on 1:01.63. A victory it was but all a far cry away from the 59.53sec Asian record that Kitajima clocked at the Montreal world championships in 2005. Work to do if he is ever to get back to best, let along keep Brendan Hansen company again.

Japan teammates Yurie Yano and Yuko Nakanishi endured a mighty three-way tussle with Korea's Hye Ra Choi over 200m butterfly but it was Yano who was able to seal a 2:09.08 victory with a decisive 33.51 last 50. That left Choi with the silver on 2:09.64, with Nakanishi, who set an Asian record of 2:06.52 back in August at the Pan Pacs, third 0.11sec further back. China's Jiao Liuyang and Deng Biying were back in sixth and seventh on 2:10.92 and 2:11.45.

Ryosuke Irie, of Japan, held off a close challenge from China's Ouyang Kunpeng, 1:58.85 to 1:59.15 over 200m backstroke, leaving Asian record holder Takashi Nakano more than two seconds adrift his best and bronzed off with a disappointing 1:59.34.

Zhao Jing of China took the 50m backstroke in 28.69, just 0.19sec outside her own Asian record and 0.19sec ahead of teammate Gao Chang, with Japan's Reiko Nakamura third on 28.89, 01sec ahead of sibling Mai.

Yang Jieqiao took the 400m freestyle for China in 4:12:75, well shy of the 4:05.00 clocked by Chen Yan before dark clouds gathered in 2002. Silver went to Zhu Wenrui in 4:14:45, with Korea's Ji Eun Lee third a further half a second behind.

Tomohiro Yamanoi's 2001 Asian record of 22.18sec over 50m freestyle was safe from harm in a what by international standards was a modest affair in Doha. The crown went to Germany based Syrian Rafd Zyad Almasri in 22.41, ahead of Makoto Ito of Japan, on 22.77, with China's Li Cai third on 22.95. All others swam over 23secs.

The 4x200m freestyle saw Japan's Takeshi Matsuda, Yuji Sakurai, Takamitsu Kojima and Daisuke Hosokawa grasp victory from the jaws of defeat in 7:14.86 as China's Yu Chenglong, Zhang Enjian, Chen Zuo and Zhang Lin improved to a 7:15.13.