Japanese figure skating icon Yuzuru Hanyu announced that he was withdrawing from the competition on Tuesday, but will continue his attempt to land the elusive quadruple shaft as a professional show skater.
Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu holds a press conference in Tokyo on July 19, 2022. (Kyodo)
After missing out on a third straight Olympic gold medal at the Beijing Games in February, the 27-year-old twice-world champion made it unclear if he would ever compete on the ice again.
“I will no longer be comparable to other competitors,” he told a news conference in Tokyo. “But I will continue to fight against my weaknesses and my former self.”
“In terms of results, I have achieved the things I could achieve. I stopped wanting to be evaluated.”
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He narrowly missed out on becoming the first athlete to land a quad axle in competition during his freestyle in Beijing, and fell on his attempt at four and a half rotational jumps.
Composite image taken on February 10, 2022 shows Yuzuru Hanyu from Japan trying out a quadruple axle during the figure skating race for men during the Winter Olympics in Beijing at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing. (Kyodo) == Kyodo
Hanyu, also a four-time Grand Prix Final winner and six-time national champion, withdrew from the World Cup in March because he had not recovered from the ankle sprain he suffered in Beijing.
“I continued to Beijing in search of the quad axel, but I feel I can do it, not necessarily in competitions … I actually feel like it gives more people a chance to see it (personally).”
“I made the decision (to stop competing) after Beijing … I have thought through many things and felt that I no longer need to be on the same stage, at the same time as I feel more determined to get better and stronger.”
Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu performs his free skate at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, February 17, 2018. (Kyodo) == Kyodo
Hanyu is based in Sendai in northeastern Japan’s Tohoku region, and inspired victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the area with the 2014 Sochi Games victory.
He made one historic defense of his Olympic gold at the 2018 Pyeongchang Gamesand became the first to achieve the feat in the sport in 66 years, since American Dick Button.
Injuries have been a constant in Hanyu’s brilliant career.
Hanyu made a comeback from injury at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang after sustaining an injury to his right ankle when he trained for the NHK Trophy in November 2017. Three months before Beijing 2022, another ligament injury in the same ankle forced him to withdraw from the NHK Trophy. again.
Defending world and Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu falls during training in Osaka on November 9, 2017, for the NHK Trophy, with the discharge bad enough that he needs treatment. He applied for his third straight NHK title this weekend and appeared to have injured his right ankle when he fell while trying a quadruple lutz. (Kyodo)
He finished fourth at the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February.
After a failed bid for three turf in Beijing, Hanyu said he “had nothing more to give” and that he needed time to think about the future.
“It does not matter what field it will be in,” he said of the next step after the Olympic gala. “It could be an ice show or a competition.”
Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu performs in the Fantasy on Ice show at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, near Tokyo, May 27, 2022. (Kyodo) == Kyodo
Hanyu returned to the ice for the four-stop “Fantasy on Ice” show that took place in May and June in Japan.
Hanyu, who started skating at the age of 4, survived the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the area and became a local hero when he won his first Olympic gold in Sochi in 2014 as a teenager.
Japanese figure skating star Yuzuru Hanyu is pictured five years old on an ice rink in November 2000. (Photo courtesy of Hanyu’s family) (Kyodo)
He is the youngest recipient of the Japanese Government’s Honor Award, after receiving the award from then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when he was 23.
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Figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu’s home track is temporarily closed due to earthquakes