AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
TOKYO: Japan's Ryosuke Irie is looking forward to the London Olympics for an opportunity to avenge his loss to American Ryan Lochte in the men's 200 metre backstroke last year.
At the world championships in Shanghai, Irie had to be satisfied with the silver medal behind Rochte, who clocked one minute 52.96 seconds to win the gold.
On Saturday at the Japan Open swimming championships, he was faster than Lochte at the 100m point before slowing down in the last 50m to win in 1:54.80, beating Kazuki Watanabe into second.
"I was finally able to set a new national lap time at the 100-metre mark. I swam very well until the 150-metre mark. I tried to spurt in the last 50 metres, but I couldn't," said Irie, 22.
"I think I proved that I improved a lot. I'm really looking forward to the future.
"If I'm slower than Rochte in the first half of the race, I'll be beaten. So I must take the lead at the 100-metre mark. I want to race at my pace, not his," added Irie, who also won the bronze in the 100m at the world championships.
Coach Taketoshi Michiura said: "I saw him tired for the first time in eight years. He is all right until the 130-metre mark. He just needs to continue till the end."