Matsumoto Katsuhiro threw down the gauntlet to his Olympic rivals after capturing the 200-metre freestyle at the Japan Open swimming meet on Friday (5 February).
The 2019 world silver medallist finished almost two seconds ahead of runner-up Ehara Naito, in 1 minute, 46.82 seconds.
Matsumoto turned at the 100 in 51.67s and was two lengths clear going into the final leg, with the race all but won.
The 23-year-old fell short of the Japan record of 1:45.13, which he set two weeks ago at the Kosuke Kitajima Cup. Overall, he was pleased with the outcome at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre given his exhaustion after a busy schedule.
"I’m out to take on the best in the world so I want to beat everyone else in Japan. Call it pride", Matsumoto Katsuhiro told reporters after.
"I’ve been pushing myself since the Kosuke Kitajima Cup and I felt pretty tired. My time was not good at all.
"But I’m putting in the work I should be putting in, so I’m not losing any sleep over my time today.
"I consider this part of my training, something I can build on for April".
Targeting Olympic gold and national records
The Japanese Olympic trials will take place in April, and Matsumoto has made no secret of his desire to win gold at Tokyo 2020.
But that's not all. He also wants rewrite Japanese swimming history.
"I’m convinced I’m improving and I have a lot of confidence in myself. I’ve been training really, really well", he said.
"The goal for April is to break my own Japan record and I know I can do it.
"I’m aiming for a 1:44 and I’ll push myself even harder from now on".
Also eyeing Olympic medals this summer are Ohashi Yui and Irie Ryosuke, who won the women's 400 individual medley and men's 100 backstroke, respectively.
Ohashi, in her first start of 2021, sealed the race in 4:36.27 while Irie breezed to victory in 53.29.