Iwasaki becomes youngest ever champion in the pool

Fourteen years and six days

Picture by Kishimoto/IOC

Kyoko Iwasaki of Japan won the 200m breaststroke Olympic gold medal in Barcelona, making her, at the age of 14 years and 6 days, the youngest swimmer ever to claim an Olympic title. 

Smaller than the rest

Born in the town of Numazu, just south of the Japanese capital Tokyo, Iwasaki was not just younger but distinctly smaller than her fellow Olympic competitors in Barcelona. She stood only 1.57 meters tall and weighed just 45 kilograms.

The 200m breaststroke race

Iwasaki started her gold medal-winning race slowly. At the first turn of the 50m pool she was in sixth place. The Japanese teenager slowly made up ground on the rest of the field throughout the race, catching the leaders with one length to go. Iwasaki passed Lin Li of China with her last few strokes to win the Olympic title in a time of 2:26.65.

Iwasaki competed at the Atlanta Games four years later in 1996 but was unable to reproduce her Barcelona title winning performance, failing to make the finals of either the 100m or 200m breaststroke events.