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JapanJapan, JPN


Further Personal Information

Date of birth
22 September 1982
178 cm
72 kg
Wife Chisa Maekawa, one daughter
Tokyo, JPN
Higher education
Health Science, Physical Education - Nippon Sports Science University: Setagaya, JPN

Sport Specific Information

When and where did you begin this sport?
He began swimming at age five when he went to a short-term swimming school at the Tokyo Swimming Centre with his friend.
Why this sport?
As a young boy in school, he wrote that in the future he was going to be an Olympian. When he was still at school, he had a chance to swim with Akira Hayashi, Japan's 1994 Asian Games 100m breaststroke champion, and from then on decided he wanted to compete at the Olympic Games. He sees swimming as a challenge and a way to show the world "what he is made of".

General Interest

Kita-san, Frog King (TV Asahi, 22 Aug 2006;, 21 Jul 2011)
Hero / Idol
Japanese judokas Tadahiro Nomura and Hidehiko Yoshida, Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe. (Lint, 13 Aug 2003, 15 May 2008)
He injured his right foot during a training session in 2015. (, 07 Apr 2015)

He tore his left abductor muscle during the 2011 national trials. (, 21 Jul 2011)

He injured his shoulder in August 2009 resulting in him pulling out of the men's 200m at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. (Asiad Daily, 19 Nov 2010)

An elbow injury kept him out of the 200m breaststroke at the 2002 Pan Pacific Championships in Yokohama, Japan. (The Hindu, 03 Oct 2002)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"When you're feeling good, you can do no wrong. But when you just aren't feeling it, it's critical to work with the water to somehow pull yourself together." (, 02 Jul 2009)
Awards and honours
He was named Best Swimmer by the Japan Swimming Federation in 2003, 2007, 2008 and 2010. (, 16 July 2012)

Given the Japan Sports Award Best Athlete in 2002, 2003 and 2004 [Olympic award], 2008 and 2010. (, 16 July 2012)

He was presented with Medal with Purple Ribbon by the Japanese government in 2003, 2004 and 2008. (, 24 Oct 2015)

He was named MVP of all sports at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, Korea. (, 05 Oct 2014)
Famous relatives
His wife Chisa is the lead singer of Japanese pop group Girl Next Door. (, 01 Jan 2013;, 21 May 2015)
Other information
In April 2016 he announced his retirement from competition after he failed to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. "It is time to move on to the next stage." (, 08 Apr 2016)

He was the first swimmer in history to win gold in both the 100m and 200m breaststroke events at successive Olympic Games [2004 and 2008], in doing so becoming the first breaststroke swimmer to win a total of four Olympic gold medals. (ONS, 24 Aug 2008)

His gold medal-winning performances in the 100m and 200m breaststroke at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, made him the first swimmer from Japan to win two gold medals at the same Olympic Games. In 2013 he won bronze in the 4x100m medley relay at the 2013 World Championships to extend his national record to 12 world championship medals. (Gold Magazine - Doha 2006 28 May 2006; SportsDesk Online, 04 Aug 2013)

After the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, he took 10 months off from competition and spent the time coaching children and giving speeches about his athletic career. In March 2009, amid speculation he would retire, he announced he was moving to the United States to study English. While there, he teamed up with Dave Salo, swimming coach at the University of Southern California, and recovered his passion for swimming. He reunited with former coach Norimasa Hirai in early 2013. (Kyodo News, 06 Apr 2012;, 26 Jul 2011; FINA Aquatics World Magazine, Mar 2010; Reuters, 24 Apr 2009;, 04 Feb 2013)

In 2011 he founded a swimming club 'Kitajimaquatics' in Japan. In April 2015 he announced he was launching the company Perform Better in conjunction with Japanese trainer Dr. Takeshi Suzuki. The company holds educational seminars for athletic trainers, physical therapists and fitness experts. It also imports and distributes functional training equipment in the Japanese market. "Just as young swimmers see me and dream of going to the Olympics one day, I hope that we can help push aspiring trainers on to the world stage." (, 24 Oct 2015;, 22 Aug 2015)

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