Japanese figure skating icon Yuzuru Hanyu announced he is retiring from competition Tuesday but will continue his bid to land the elusive quadruple axel as a professional exhibition skater.
After missing out on a third straight Olympic gold at the Beijing Games in February, the 27-year-old two-time world champion left it unclear whether he would ever again compete on the ice.
Two-time Olympic figure skating gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu smiles during a press conference in Tokyo on July 19, 2022. The 27-year-old announced his retirement from competition. (Kyodo) == Kyodo
“I’ll no longer be able to be compared with other competitors,” he said during a press conference in Tokyo. “But I’ll keep fighting my weaknesses and my past self.”
“In terms of results, I’ve achieved the things I could achieve. I stopped wanting to be evaluated.”
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He narrowly missed becoming the first athlete to land the quad axel in competition during his free skate in Beijing, falling on his attempt at the four-and-a-half rotation jump.
Composite photo taken Feb. 10, 2022, shows Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan attempting a quadruple axel during the men’s figure skating free skate at the Beijing Winter Olympics 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 championships in March as he had not recovered from the ankle sprain he sustained in Beijing.
“I carried on until Beijing in pursuit of the quad axel but I feel I can do it, not necessarily in competitions…I actually feel it gives a chance for more people to witness it (in person).”
“I made the decision (to stop competing) after Beijing…I’ve thought through many things and felt I no longer need to be on the same stage, while also feeling 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, on Feb. 17, 2018. (Kyodo) == Kyodo
A native of Sendai in northeastern Japan’s Tohoku region, Hanyu inspired victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the area with his victory at the 2014 Sochi Games.
He made a historic defense of his Olympic gold at the 2018 Pyeongchang Gamesbecoming the first to achieve the feat in the sport in 66 years, since American Dick Button.
Injuries have been a constant in Hanyu’s illustrious career.
Hanyu made a comeback from injury at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang after sustaining right ankle ligament damage when practicing for the NHK Trophy in November 2017. Three months before Beijing 2022, another ligament injury to the same ankle forced him to pull out of the NHK Trophy again.
Defending world and Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu falls during training in Osaka on Nov. 9, 2017, for the NHK Trophy, with the spill bad enough for him to require treatment. Seeking his third straight NHK title on the weekend, Hanyu appeared to have hurt his right ankle when he fell while attempting a quadruple lutz. (Kyodo)
He finished fourth at the Beijing Winter Olympics in February.
After an unsuccessful three-peat bid in Beijing, Hanyu said he had “nothing more to give” and that he needed time to think about his future.
“It doesn’t matter what field it will be in,” he said of his 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, on May 27, 2022. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
Hanyu returned to the ice for the four-stop “Fantasy on Ice” show which took place in May and June in Japan.
Hanyu, who started skating at age 4, survived the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the area and became a local hero when he won his first Olympic gold at Sochi in 2014 as a teenager.
Japanese figure skating superstar Yuzuru Hanyu is pictured at five years old at a skating rink in November, 2000. (Photo courtesy of Hanyu’s family)(Kyodo)
He is the youngest recipient of the Japanese government’s People’s Honor Award, having received the award from then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when he was 23.
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