The Yomiuri ShimbunGWANGJU, South Korea — Katsuhiro Matsumoto made Japanese swimming history on Tuesday night, and not just by setting a national record in the men’s 200-meter freestyle at the FINA World Championships.
Matsumoto became the first Japanese to win a medal in the event at a world championships or Olympics when he took the silver, clocking a Japan record 1 minute 45.22 seconds to finish second behind China’s Sun Yang.
“I just cannot believe it,” said a jubilant Matsumoto, who had failed to make the final at the 2017 world championships.
Going out strong, the 22-year-old Matsumoto fell back to fourth place at one point near the 150-meter mark. But he put on a late surge to touch the wall in third place. When race-winner Danas Rapsys of Lithuania was disqualified for a false start, Matsumoto was upgraded to the silver medal.
In finishing 0.29 seconds behind Sun, Matsumoto cut 0.41 off his previous personal best and just bettered Kosuke Hagino’s national record by 0.01.
After his disappointing showing at the 2017 worlds, Matsumoto redoubled his efforts in training and showed progress by taking the bronze medal at last year’s Pan Pacific Championships.