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Kitajima scoffs at 'triple-double'

JAPAN'S multiple Olympic champion Kosuke Kitajima has played down prospects of a dramatic repeat of his Athens and Beijing heroics at the 2012 London Games.

The 26-year-old's competitive future has been in doubt since he became the first man to win both the 100 and 200 meters breaststroke at two Olympics Games in China last August.

Kitajima said he had yet to decide whether to continue but warned his hopes of completing a "triple-double" in 2012 were unrealistic, even if he made it to the starting blocks.

"I've accomplished a lot and it's very difficult to ask any more of me," he said. "The Olympics hold a special place in my heart.

"If I feel I want to swim (in London) I'll go. But if I haven't got that same buzz then it will be time to stop. Right now is not the time to answer questions about retiring."

Kitajima's decision to skip this year's world championships has heightened speculation he is set to hang up his goggles, but he refused to be drawn.

"People will have their own opinions but I don't care what others say," Asia's most-decorated swimmer added.

"I shed some tears in Beijing but quite a few months have passed since and when I remember it now, I don't get excited. It's not something I think about everyday."

The path to Kitajima's stunning Beijing success was a bumpy one, with injuries and a string of losses to fierce rival Brendan Hansen eroding his confidence.

"I beat Hansen in Athens in 2004 so he wanted revenge and then started tearing it up," said Kitajima, who has reclaimed the 100 and 200 world records from the American. "His presence was key for me. We never spoke to each other but we certainly understood each other."

The two men's relationship had been icy since Kitajima was accused of using an illegal dolphin kick at the Athens Olympics but the Japanese settled the score for good in Beijing. "I don't hate him," Kitajima said. "I respected him for the way he came back after Athens. There was some stuff said and all sorts of drama but that's the Olympics."

Kitajima suffered a hangover after Athens as injuries began to take their toll.

"There were times I wondered what I was doing," admitted Kitajima.

"But to come through the tough times is all part of the process. The Olympics are unique. I loved the drama, the rivalry (with Hansen) and getting myself fired up for it."

Kitajima, currently helping his native Tokyo's bid for the 2016 Olympics, insisted his rollercoaster ride between the Athens and Beijing Games had toughened him up. "When you're not fit or swimming well you simply don't have time for any negative thoughts," he said.


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