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Japan's Kitajima promises world records

BEIJING (Reuters) - Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima has promised more world records in his bid to retain his Olympic 100 and 200 meters breaststroke titles in Beijing.

Asia’s most decorated swimmer is the red-hot favorite to take gold in the 200 after American rival Brendan Hansen failed to qualify for the event.

Kitajima, who smashed the 200 world record in June, was supremely confident of prolonging Hansen’s Olympic misery in the 100, boasting that he was in the best shape of his life.

“I intend to break world records,” Kitajima told a news conference in Beijing on Thursday. “I’m confident of that. I’m really looking forward to racing Hansen.”

Kitajima is one of Japan’s main gold medal hopes but the 25-year-old rejected the notion he was under any added pressure in Beijing.

“It’s not the sort of that pressure (Chinese hurdler) Liu Xiang is under. I’ve waited a long time for these Olympics and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Kitajima memorably celebrated victory over Hansen in Athens by staring wide-eyed into a TV camera and whooping: “I kicked his butt!”

Hansen, who still holds the 100 meters world record, has dominated Kitajima since but the Japanese swimmer again peaked at precisely the right time.

“The Olympics are special -- totally different from anything,” said Kitajima. “I have targeted the Olympics and am feeling better than ever. I’m very confident.”

Editing by Ed Osmond