Mikako Kotani (JPN)
Honor Synchronized / Artistic Swimmer (2007)
FOR THE RECORD: 1988 OLYMPIC GAMES: bronze (solo, duet); 1992 OLYMPIC GAMES: bronze (duet); 1986 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: bronze (duet, team); 1991 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: silver (duet), bronze (solo, team); 1985 PAN PACIFIC CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (duet), silver (solo); 1987 PAN PACIFIC CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (duet); 1985 WORLD CUP: bronze (team); 1987 WORLD CUP: Bronze (duet, team); 1989 WORLD CUP: silver (duet), bronze (solo, team); 1989 JAPAN OPEN: gold (solo); 1989 SWISS OPEN: gold (solo), silver (duet); 1980 MALLORCA OPEN: gold (solo); 1990 GOODWILL GAMES: silver (solo, duet).
What Hall of Fame Olympic Champions Tracy Ruiz, Carolyn Waldo, Candy Costie, Michele Cameron, The Josephson Twins, Sylvie Frechette and Kristen Babb were to the U.S. and Canada, beautiful Mikako Kotani was to Japan! They all competed against each other and Mikako was always on the victory stand with them. She was so publicized and idolized in her country that Japanese television crews followed her everywhere. With her athleticism and warm personality, she helped to popularize synchronized swimming in her country. She is a “household name” and recognized everywhere in Japan.
Mikako studied abroad at Gail Emery’s Walnut Creek Aquanuts in California and from 1985 to 1988, she won gold medals in solo at the Japan, Swiss and Mallorca Opens. At the 1988 Seoul Olympics, as the first female in Japanese history to carry the flag in the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Games, Mikako won the bronze medal in both the solo and duet events. She repeated as the duet bronze medalist four years later at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Unlike the World Championship and Olympic gold medal duet teams of the Josephson twins, Waldo and Cameron, Vanderburg and Calkins, Ruiz and Costie, all of whom performed in duet competitions together for most of their careers, Mikako had a different partner for each major competition: Tanaka and Okuno for two Olympic Games and Takayama and Itoh for two World Championships – and she still medaled as a silver or bronze winner. After retirement, she opened a school for synchronized swimming, so that every little girl who wanted to participate in synchronized swimming would be able to regardless of finances. She has served on the Japan Olympic Committee, IOC Athletes Commission, and Association of National Olympic Committees and in 1997, introduced the Olympic Truce Resolution to the United Nations General Assembly. She is a television commentator, interviewer and celebrity.