Yoshiyuki Tsuruta (JPN)
Honor Swimmer (1968)
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1928 gold (200m breaststroke); 1932 gold (200m breaststroke); Director of Japan Swimming league; Principal of Ehime Swimming School; Vice President of Ehime Swimming League; President of Matsuyama Swimming Society.
In the history of the modern Olympic Games, since 1896, only one man has repeated as gold medal winner in the 200 meter breaststroke. In order to accomplish this remarkable double, Japan’s Yoshiyuki Tsuruta established himself as one of the world’s all-time great competitors. To win in 1928, Tsuruta had to defeat Rademacher, the great German world record holder. To win his gold medal in 1932, Tsuruta had to beat his teammate Reizo Koike who set the world and Olympic record at 2:44.9 in the preliminaries.
“I was born in Kagosima in 1903,” Tsuruta says, “as a second son of nine brothers. We are all well except a fallen soldier. From my childhood, I learned how to swim, running after fish and playing about in the stream of scenic beauty flowing in front of my house. Though I lived at the seaside, in summer when I was 24 years old, I became the first Japanese winner of the championship at 200 meter breaststroke in the 9th Olympic Games in Amsterdam. Then I felt much honored to be handed the victory medal by the Dutch queen. I won the continuous championship again in the 10th Olympics in Los Angeles at the age of 28 years when I graduated at the Meiji University. When I was 43 years old, in the employment of the Nagoya Municipal Office, I went to war and there taught swimming to many young soldiers. Afterwards, I returned to my family’s place of refuge and joined the Ehime. Twenty years passed since the Ehime Swimming School had been established. Every year during this period, I have coached beginners, representatives in swimming in our own and other prefectures and swimming classes under the auspices of Ministry of Education. Now I’m in very good health.”
Tsuruta is currently Director of the Japan Swimming League, principal of the Ehime Swimming School, Vice President of the Ehime Swimming League, and President of the Matsuyama Swimming Society. He joins countrymen Kusuo Kitamura and Hironoshin Furuhashi as Japanese honorees in the International Swimming Hall of Fame.