Irie beats Hagino again to show who`s the boss

AFP| Updated: Apr 13, 2014, 18:31 PM IST

Tokyo: London Olympic triple medallist Ryosuke Irie edged up-and-coming all-rounder Kosuke Hagino Sunday for the second time at the Japanese swimming championships to reassert his supremacy in the backstroke.

Irie, who beat Hagino into second spot in Friday`s 100-metres backstroke, led from the start to win the 200m event also in one minute, 53.91 seconds. Hagino finished second at 1:54.23 and Yuki Shirai third at 1:57.32.

"I really wanted to win this event, no matter what. I feel relieved that I could win," said Irie, who grabbed the 200m backstroke and 4x100 medley silver medals as well as the 100m backstroke bronze at the 2012 London Games.

"I stalled in the second half as I started swimming haphazardly. This is a good lesson for me," said the 24-year-old, who lost to Hagino in the 100m backstroke but beat him back over 200 meters in last year`s nationals to crush his bid for a record six titles in one meet.

Hagino, 19, who won the 400m individual medley bronze in London and is aiming high to win the multi-event gold in a world record time at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, ended his 2014 nationals campaign with four titles in the 200m and 400m individual medleys as well as the 200m and 400m freestyle races.

Hagino lowered his own Japanese and Asian records in the 200m individual medley by 0.36 seconds to 1:55.38. He broke his national 400m freestyle record with a time of 3:43.90.

The nationals served as trials for the Pan-Pacific championships in August in Australia`s Gold Coast and the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, in September and October.

Hagino all but secured berths in these events at the international meets. The Japanese Swimming Federation was to announce the teams for the events on Monday.

"As a matter of course, Mr Irie is formidable in the backstroke," said Hagino, who took the 400m freestyle and 200m individual medley silver medals at last year`s world championships in Barcelona.

"I cannot imitate his swimming if I try. I want to copy his skills such as good turns and good starts at each and every competition."

Two other national records fell at the four-day championships, to Satomi Suzuki in the women`s 50m breaststroke and Shinri Shioura in the men`s 50m freestyle.