Seventeen-year-old Kosuke Hagino, who won the bronze medal in the men's 400-meter individual medley Saturday, looked surprised when he checked the electronic scoreboard after finishing the race. The youthful Hagino, who outswam his idol Michael Phelps in the race, simply said, "It was fun because I swam with the world's top swimmers."
"[Kosuke] is an ordinary third-year high school student who likes AKB48 very much. I wonder if that's really my son," his mother, Takako, 48, said happily while watching her son from the stands at the pool in London. "He was born in a state of apparent death," Takako said, explaining the phrase "apparent death" was written on the first page of her maternity health record book.
According to Takako, she suffered a placental separation during the 35th week of her pregnancy. Hagino, who was delivered via Caesarean section, did not cry like normal babies when he was first born. Hagino was introduced to swimming by chance at a young age. While Takako was pregnant, she joined a neighborhood swimming club in Oyama, Tochigi Prefecture. The club was holding a campaign aimed at babies and offered to waive enrollment fees. Takako enrolled her son in the club at 6 months old and Hagino's swimming improved rapidly. Every two months, the club held a placement test and thanks to his desire to win and his father's tough training, Hagino never failed to advance.
Takako fully supported her son's ambitions and continued to take her son to and from the swimming club for more than a decade. She recorded her son's daily food intake, body fat ratio and blood test results and sought advice from a sports nutritionist at least once every three months.
"Once [Kosuke] gets an idea in his head, he always sees it through," Takako said. But outside of his swimming career, Hagino is a cheerful high school student and likes idol singers. A fan of AKB48's Yuko Oshima, Hagino has attended her live concerts and shook her hand at a meet-and-greet, Takako said. Hagino is also often teased by his fellow London Games teammates. When he was ordered to lead the "cheering squad" for other swimmers, he jokingly said, "What should I do if my voice gives out when cheering on Kosuke Kitajima in the final race?"
Hagino had set his sights on participating in the London Olympics ever since he was a middle school student. Even on the big stage, he said, "I didn't feel much pressure." During the final race, Hagino stood on the starting block with world-class swimmers, including his hero Phelps. Undaunted, Hagino even managed to shave more than a second off his best time. After seeing his ranking on the scoreboard, he triumphantly pumped his left arm, saying, "I did it!"
Hagino is quoted saying, "I thought Yuko would remember me at handshake events if I won a medal at the Olympics." In response to this, after he grabbed bronze in the 400m individual relay, AKB48's Oshima Yuko blogged about him:
"Athlete Hagino Kosuke of Tochigi's Sakushin Gakuin
Won the bronze medal, eh? ><
He's Tochigi's star!
Moreover, it seems that
He said that I'm his oshi-men*,
And that makes me happy
I, too, will do my best so that people say that I'm Tochigi's star!
Congratulations on your bronze medal!"
source, 2, 3
He's really cute. He won me over with the fact that he didn't kiss, lick or bite his medal.