University President Kaoru Kamata greeted Ippei Watanabe, a student at the School of Sport Sciences at Waseda University, to congratulate him on his winning the bronze medal in the 200m breaststroke event at the 2017 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, Hungary. This is his first medal from an international competition, and it was only January 29 that Watanabe established the world record for the same event at the 2017 Kosuke Kitajima Cup, with the time of 2:06.67.
A ceremony was held for Watanabe, where he thanked his supporters for watching the event, despite it being on air at midnight in Japan. “Even though I established an Olympic record at Rio Olympic Games, I was unable to win a medal in the final round. From this frustration, I worked hard toward this championship. I am glad that my efforts have paid off, but as an Olympic record holder, I feel bronze is not enough. However, I felt proud to win a medal together with Yasuhiro Koseki, a fellow Japanese swimmer, and to hear that Japan’s forte (swimming) was back. In the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, I will be sure to win the gold, so that Japanese swimmers could make a one-two finish.”
President Kamata encouraged Watanabe saying that, “We look forward to you in the Tokyo Olympics. I believe participating in the championships as a world record holder has become a great experience for you, winning the attention of fans and swimmers around the world. In addition, five Waseda students and alumni have participated in the championship, three of them winning medals. It must have been encouraging to have such great support around you. Please continue to inspire swimming fans across the nation.”
In addition, Isao Muraoka, Vice President for Promotion of Sports and Olympic/Paralympic Projects, congratulated Watanabe. “As the world and the Olympic record holder, I can’t imagine the attention you must be getting from swimmers worldwide. There’s no doubt that everyone is expecting you to win the gold, but I hope that you will train at your own pace without feeling too much pressure,” he said.
Aside from Watanabe, Jyunya Koga ’10 won silver in the 50m event, and Daiya Seto ’17 took home two bronze medals in the 200m butterfly and 400m individual medley events. Out of the seven medals (two silver and five bronze medals) won by the Japanese national team, four of them were by Waseda students and alumni.