Speaking from his team’s training base in Basildon, Japan’s Olympic swimming team manager Tatsuo Ogura laid out his country’s hopes for the forthcoming Olympic Games, confirming that the squad hopes to improve on their 2008 showing.
“Our goal is to get eight medals, including at least one medal that is gold” he said. “We hope to achieve that. We got five medals in Beijing and we hope to do better than that this year.”
One of their biggest hopefuls, Kosuke Kitajima, has yet to arrive from the United States where he has chosen to train separately. Kitajima won gold in the 100m and 200m breaststroke in both Athens and Beijing and is hoping to join the elite band to win 3 consecutive Olympic golds. He will also want to reclaim his previously held world records from the Australian duo of Brenton Rickard and Christian Sprenger.
The Japanese squad, consisting of 17 swimmers and 8 coaches, are training hard in the build-up to the games at the £36million Basildon Sporting Village before they transfer to the Olympic Village on the 20th July. Ogura is pleased with the facilities and the welcome that the team have received from the local public.
“We love it here,” Ogura remarked. “It’s a great, beautiful town and the facilities are excellent. The pool is great because it is an Olympic style pool, 50 metres long with eight lanes. It is new, just one year old and it is impressive. The training gym is good because they have a great deal of equipment and we can use the studio for our pre-swimming training so that is very good.
“The people have been really nice and kind to us, they keep smiling from the hotel to the Sporting Village and we are really enjoying it here”.
In preparation for such a colossal event, the team are working exceptionally hard to ensure they are in peak physical condition for when they leap into the Aquatics Centre in London in three week’s time. Ogura spoke of his surprise once he saw the Stratford complex for the first time.
“It is huge! We have been in the swimming pool for a test event in March and that was also really amazing to be part of in a wonderful facility.” Those thoughts of the Olympic Aquatic Centre are not however, affecting the work going on in Essex to ensure peak performance the next time the swimmers are there.
“Training is very intense but of course it varies for each individual swimmer. We are eating a lot of carbohydrates, plenty of steamed rice and pasta for breakfast and lunch and a lot of fish. But not fish and chips,” he laughed.
The squad appeared to be in good spirits and are being fondly appreciated by the local public. But while the mood of the camp is relaxed now, Ogura warned that they are still working very seriously to meet their goals.
“At the moment we are relaxed and focused on training hard. The nerves may start to come closer to the time, but we can’t wait for it to start”.
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