Olympic Star Ryosuke Irie Announces Retirement

Jiji Press
Ryosuke Irie speaks at a press conference in Tokyo on Wednesday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Swimmer Ryosuke Irie, who won three medals at the 2012 London Olympics, announced his retirement Wednesday at a press conference in Tokyo.

The 34-year-old, who appeared in four consecutive Olympics in the men’s backstroke, had been active on the international stage since 2006.

“I’m truly happy to have been able to enjoy a long career as a competitive swimmer,” a tearful Irie said.

The native of Osaka Prefecture, Irie was known for his amazing balance and flexible shoulders, which allowed him to swim the backstroke with a plastic bottle placed on his forehead.

At the London Games, Irie won silver medals in the 200-meter backstroke and in 400 medley relay, and a bronze in the 100 backstroke.

He holds the Japanese records for both the 100 and 200 backstroke.

Irie has been plagued by injuries in recent years, and was unable to clinch a spot for the 2024 Paris Olympics at a selection event last month.

He failed to meet the qualifying standard while finishing second in the 100 backstroke, and missed out in the 200 race as well.

“While I would’ve liked to retire at the Paris [Olympics], I’m glad that I was able to continue swimming for this long,” Irie said.