TOKYO (REUTERS, AFP) - Japan's gold medal hope Daiya Seto failed to qualify for the men's 400m individual medley final after finishing ninth in the heats at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre on Saturday (July 24).
The 27-year-old world champion, who was the bronze medallist in Rio five years ago, was among the favourites but finished a disappointing fifth in his heat to miss out on the final as the swimming programme opened.
His time of 4min 10.52sec was almost two seconds short of the one that saw him claim victory at the 2019 World Championships.
Australia's Brendon Smith was fastest with a time of 4:09.27, followed by New Zealand's Lewis Clareburt (4:09.49) and American Chase Kalisz (4:09.65).
"I didn't let it all out and I regret that," said Seto.
"In Rio five years ago I went too fast in the prelims and couldn't work my best in the finals so I tried to avoid that situation. In the last 100 I didn't let it all out."
Seto will now hope to make amends in the 200m butterfly on Monday and the 200m individual medley on Wednesday.
He looked set to be a serious contender at the Olympics after posting some of the best times in the world in early 2020 but he has struggled to regain form this year.