Yuzuru Hanyu, who’s been termed the G.O.A.T. of figure skating and has won 2 Olympic Gold medals for Japan, has announced retirement from the magnificent 12-year skating career.
With programs that mixed the most awe-inspiring jumps with elegant athleticism, intricate costume designs, and emotional representations of Japanese tradition, Hanyu was a massive driving force behind the sport’s growth in popularity. He was a role model for his juniors and peers to push the limits of their athletic performances.
In a press conference in Tokyo, the 27-year-old announced his decision not to compete but to participate in shows and exhibitions, putting an end to months of speculation as to whether he’d be a part of the forthcoming ISU Grand Prix season and start a search to secure a 4th Winter Games berth, despite numerous injuries that have affected his performance in recent seasons.
“I’m grateful to have thousands of people back and acknowledge myself,” Hanyu said. “Now, instead of being confined to events, I hope there are more opportunities to showcase my skating skills, and I’m excited about making those opportunities.”
The questions surrounding Hanyu’s future increased in frequency after Hanyu’s participation at the Beijing Winter Olympics in February, where he came in fourth, just behind fellow rivals Shoma Uno and Yuma Kagiyama, including American gold medalist Nathan Chen.
Looking for a remarkable turnaround following a shocking eighth-place finishing in the short-course competition, Hanyu declared that he would attempt a quad axel — the figure skating’s most difficult jump and the ultimate brass ring in the open skate.
In front of a packed public in the Capital Indoor Arena on February 10, Hanyu — skating to Isao Tomita’s “Ten to Chi To” — jumped up into the sky and appeared to be close to finishing the required four 1/2 turns. Still, then he fell to the Ice after his landing. Gasps echoed throughout the arena.
Experts nonetheless regarded the attempt to quadruple axel as the closest to being a winner in the competition. It was one of many updates Hanyu has contributed to the sport’s history books.
“The axel was about as close as I’ve come previously, so I believe this is the best thing I’m capable of doing right now,” Hanyu said afterward. “I took the risk, and it’s something I’ll keep forever in my heart.”
A few days after the event, Hanyu revealed that he could skate despite straining his right ankle, which was causing him pain in practice. He also admitted to having been given a shot of painkillers just before going off to the Ice.
He was forced to take several painkillers to participate in February 20 gala for the exhibition -performing together with Beijing Olympics mascot Bing Dwen Dwen which was a massive hit with the crowd. However, he would later mention his ankle injury when he resigned from the March World Championships held, which took place in Montpellier, France.
Hanyu was able to recover from his injury. He was able to participate during his participation in the “Fantasy on Ice” event, which featured 12 sold-out shows in four cities between May and June. While he had said in his comments on the website of the Japan Skating Federation that he’d “aim to go even further” for the next year, Hanyu had not publicly stated that he would compete.
“The Fantasy on Ice performance was my last chance to skate at my amateur level; however it did make me realize that I’d like to skate on a bigger stage,” Hanyu said Tuesday.
“I would like to intensify my efforts to complete the quad axel, and I will work to finish it in front of everyone’s eyes … I hope that everyone continues to support me.”
Based on Nikkan Sports, Tuesday’s news conference was planned to be held this week, only to be delayed following the assassination on July 8 of the former prime minister Shinzo Abe. Abe, in 2018 declared Hanyu the youngest individual winner of the People’s Honor Award.
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