Kosuke Kitajima, the double gold medalist in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke races at both the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympic Games, is training for what he hopes will be a three-peat medal sweep in his discipline at the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympic Games to be held in London, England.
After his repeat performance in 2008 at the Games in Beijing, China, Kitajima moved from Japan to Los Angeles, citing a need for privacy. He established not only a new life, but also a revamped training regimen. In the U.S., he is not the celebrity figure that he is in his native land. This allows him to follow his daily routine with no fan or media interference.
Kitajima made sporadic appearances in international swimming competitions from 2009-2011, with largely indifferent results. Coming off a knee injury, he swam to fourth and second-place finishes in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke contests at the 2011 World Championships. And at the U.S. Nationals in December, he recorded a fourth-place showing in the 100 meters and a middle-of-the pack fifth place in the 200 meters.
As 2012 progresses, Kitajima must get ready for Olympic qualifying back home at the All-Japan Championships to be staged in April. Nearing thirty years of age and close to four years removed from dominating at the Beijing Games, he will have to be at his best to represent Japan.
His domestic competition includes Ryo Tateishi , who recently captured both the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke races at the Japan National Short-Course Championships with superb times, and seventeen-year-old World Junior Champion in both events, Akihiro Yamaguchi, a precocious talent who may be ready to challenge for a Olympic squad roster spot.
If he qualifies for the Olympics, Kitajima could also face stiff competition from long-time American rival Brendan Hansen, a former world-record holder who has been making a strong comeback over the past year. Considering his results in competitions of late, and a probable strong field of competitors for his titles, Kosuke Kitajima is far from a sure bet to repeat his gold medal feats of 2004 and 2008 this summer in London.