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Kosuke Kitajima, Alicia Coutts fail to make World Championships teams

Kosuke Kitajima

TOKYO, JAPAN - JUNE 19: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) Kosuke Kitajima reacts after finishing third in the Men’s 100m Breaststroke during day one of the Japan Open 2014 Swimming at Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Pool on June 19, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

The Asahi Shimbun

Japan’s most decorated swimmer of all time and Australia’s most decorated athlete across all sports at the 2012 Olympics both failed to make their World Swimming Championships teams.

Kosuke Kitajima, who swept the breaststrokes at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, finished third in the 100m breast at the Japanese Championships on Wednesday. A nation can send no more than two swimmers per individual event to the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, in August.

Kitajima did not enter the 200m breast at the Japanese Championships. That means the four-time Olympian Kitajima, 32, will likely miss his second World Championships since 1998. The other absence was 2009, when Kitajima took a break from swimming.

“I fell just like cherry blossom petals,” Kitajima said, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun. “I was sure that I could finish within the qualifying time, and I still believe I can compete [at the top level].”

Alicia Coutts, who won an Australian-leading five medals at the 2012 Olympics, may retire after failing to make the World Championships team, according to Australian media.

Coutts, 27, finished third in the 100m butterfly at the Australian Championships. She is the reigning Olympic bronze medalist and Worlds silver medalist in the event. She did not enter the 200m individual medley, an event in which she won silver at the 2011 and 2013 Worlds and 2012 Olympics.

She also finished sixth in the 100m freestyle but did not earn a spot on the 4x100m free relay team for Worlds (full Australian team here).

Coutts competed after suffering a serious shoulder injury.

“I was going to retire 12 weeks ago, so I am lucky to be here,” Coutts said Sunday, according to The Australian Associated Press. “I went kind of AWOL, so I really only started training at the first of January.”

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