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(Reuters) - Confident Japanese swimmer Kosuke Hagino said he was targeting a hat-trick of gold medals at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and was looking forward to a showdown with American idols Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte.
Hagino bettered his own Japan record in the 200 meter individual medley at the national championships, which concluded on Sunday, one of four events the 21-year-old will take part in at the Brazil Games in August.
Hagino also wanted gold in the 200m freestyle and 400m individual medley, where he pipped Phelps to Olympics bronze in London four years ago.
"I think if you set clear goals for yourself, it's easier to identify what you need to work on," Hagino was quoted as saying by Kyodo News.
"Of course, I want to win a gold and without question. My two biggest rivals will be the two from America.
"I've looked up to those two and I now have an opportunity to challenge them for a gold medal at the Olympics. It'll be the last time to compete against them on the Olympic stage. I want to enjoy it and hopefully come out ahead."
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Patrick Johnston