Kosuke Kitajima is a swimmer competing at the 2012 London Summer Olympics for Japan.

Kosuke Kitajima became the first man ever to win the 100m breaststroke twice at the Olympics when he took gold in Beijing. He also broke Brendan Hansen's world record, becoming the first man under 59 seconds at 58.91. Rival Hansen finished fourth. Kitajima than cemented his legacy as the best breaststroker of all time by winning the 200m later at those Games in an Olympic record 2:07.64, just off his world mark of 2:07.51. He's the first swimmer in history to win both breaststroke events at consecutive Olympics.

One of Japan's most popular athletes, Kosuke Kitajima held the world records in the 100m and 200m breaststroke until July 2004. American Brendan Hansen broke both records at U.S. Olympic Trials, setting up an intriguing rivalry heading into Athens. Kitajima, who was the world champion in both races in 2003, got revenge by taking gold in both races. Kitajima also won a bronze in Athens as part of the 4x100m medley relay.

Kitajima battled Hansen for the top spot between Athens and Beijing. Kitajima took silver behind Hansen in the 100m breast at 2005 Worlds and again at 2007 Worlds. Kitajima won the 200m breast in 2007, with Hansen out of the race because of illness. Kitajima then shattered Hansen's 200m breast world record by nearly a second in June 2008, clocking a 2:07.51 at the Japan Open. Hansen retired after the 2008 Olympics but came back in 2011, and beat Kitajima in both races at the U.S. Winter Nationals in December. Kitajima said he was at the meet to "concentrate on my swimming form," not win races. If both make their respective 2012 Olympic teams, there could be a war of words in the media leading up to their races.

Kitajima did not swim at the 2009 World Championships but at the 2011 Worlds in Shanghai, he finished second to Hungary's Daniel Gyurta in the 200m breaststroke and fourth in the 100m breaststroke. However, he won both races at the 2010 Pan-Pacific Championships.

Kitajima told the China Post in 2011 that he wants to do more than win Olympic gold in 2012. "I won't be satisfied just by winning," he said. "I want to hear people say, 'What were those high-speed swimsuits after all?'" Kitajima broke the 100m and 200m breaststroke world records at the 2008 Olympics but both marks were broken at the 2009 Worlds.

After Kitajima's breakthrough at the 2003 World Championships, where he won the 100m and 200m breaststroke with world records in both, he had the rare privilege of receiving an invitation to the Imperial Palace to meet Emperor Akihito. On the visit in November 2003, Kitajima was presented with a special symbolic swimming medal. He also became the first Asian swimmer ever signed by Speedo, in February 2004. Kitajima is now sponsored by the Japanese brand Mizuno.

Kitajima's medals in Athens broke a long drought for Japanese breaststrokers in the Games. He became Japan's second medalist in an Olympic 100m breast, after Nobutaka Taguchi, who won the gold at the 1972 Munich Games. Japanese men had previously won nine medals in the 200m breaststroke, the last a bronze by Taguchi 32 years ago. The Tokyo native is now recognized by Japanese sports fans on a similar level with baseball players, soccer stars and sumo wrestlers.


How tall is he? How old is he? Where does he live? Find out here.

Age: 34 years old
Birthday: September 22, 1982
Height: 5' 8"
Weight: 161 lbs.
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Current Residence: Tokyo, Japan

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