August 22, 2018 / 3:19 PM / in 3 months

Asian Games: Kazakh Balandin ponders retirement two years after Olympic triumph

Swimming - 2018 Asian Games - Men's 100m Breaststroke Final - GBK Aquatic Center, Jakarta, Indonesia - August 22, 2018. Bronze medallist Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan during the medal ceremony REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Dmitriy Balandin won a bronze medal at the Asian Games on Wednesday but said he is considering retirement at the age of 23, only two years after becoming Kazakhstan’s first Olympic swimming champion.

The tall Kazakh came out of nowhere to sweep all three breaststroke titles as a teenager at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon before making history in Rio with 200m Olympic gold from the outside lane.

After a miserable 2018 in which his coach Dimitrij Mancevic died and he suffered an ankle injury, Balandin skipped the 200m in Jakarta and managed only third in the 100m final behind Japan’s Yasuhiro Koseki and Yan Zibei of China.

He took a selfie on the podium “for the memory” before telling reporters that he was unsure what the future held beyond his 50m breaststroke title defence on Friday.

“I can’t answer this question now,” he said. “I need some holiday maybe, maybe new motivation. I have won all I wanted to win. I don’t know what to swim for in the future.

“I’m happy,” he added with a smile. “It was a great result for me but my opponents were faster, stronger.”

Balandin has suffered a drop in form since his Rio triumph made him a national hero in his homeland, failing to reach the final of any of the breaststroke events at last year’s world championships in Hungary.

Writing by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by David Goodman

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