Japan's Kimura on form for Incheon 2014

Keiichi Kimura is one of Asia’s top ranked swimmers heading into Incheon 2014 thanks to a new coach and training regime. 17 Oct 2014
Swimmer in butterfly style in a pool with a simming cap

Keiichi Kimura of Japan competes in the men's 200m individual medley SM11 heats on day 10 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games

ⒸGetty Images

“My main goal is the gold medal.”

A change of coach and sheer determination led to Japan’s Keichi Kimura becoming a double world champion in 2013 and one of the most hotly tipped contenders ahead of the Incheon 2014 Asian Para Games.

Kimura, who has just turned 24, is the top ranked Asian swimmer across no less than four men’s S11 events on the programme for Incheon 2014 which takes place in South Korea from 18-24 October.

He is clear about his race plans for the event: “My main goal is the gold medal.”

But the road to the top has not been easy for the London 2012 flagbearer. Making his international debut in 2006, Kimura failed to medal at Beijing 2008 but was encouraged by a series of top 10 finishes in one of the most competitive classifications.

Fast-forward to two years later at the 2010 IPC Swimming World Championships in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, and he made it onto the podium in four out of six events, leaving with one silver and three bronze medals.

Then at London 2012, Kimura swam to a silver in the men’s 100m breaststroke SB11 and bronze in the 100m butterfly S11, a performance which he credits as a turning point in his career.

“After the London Paralympics, I could obtain support from private company. In addition, I came to be able to have coaching instructions from Mr. Noguchi, teacher of Nihon University. Thus, the training environments came to be better than before, so my record and performance is now improving.”

“Improving” is somewhat of an understatement. At the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal, Canada, Kimura not only added the world title in the 100m breaststroke to his trophy cabinet but also touched the wall in first to claim the 100m free gold too.

Kimura however remains convinced that he has not yet hit his peak. This will be an ominous statement to his competitors ahead of Incheon and the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships in Glasgow, Great Britain, where he will face the likes of American Brad Snyder, who also happens to be his idol.

He said: “The world class level is rapidly and dramatically improving. Meanwhile I should not be left alone. In order to reach the top level, I am executing daily and hard training.”

Looking further ahead to Glasgow 2015, Kimura remains modest about his potential yet focused on qualifying for Rio 2016.

“I wish to accomplish at least second place in the IPC Swimming World Championships in 2015, by which I want to win a slot for participating at Rio 2016,” he said. “I wish to improve my performance in consideration with this goal for the next years.”

The Asian Para Games will see athletes from 41 countries compete in 23 sports.

More information, including results can be found at the Incheon 2014 Asian Para Games website.

The 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships will feature 650 swimmers from 60 countries gathering at the same pool as the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games from 13-19 July.