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Relentless drive for perfection brings Olympic figure skating gold to Hanyu
Publication Date : 17-02-2014
This is a landmark in the history of Japanese sports. We applaud his great achievement.
Nineteen-year-old Yuzuru Hanyu has won a gold medal in men’s figure skating at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. He is the first Japanese man in history to win an Olympic gold medal in figure skating.
Hanyu achieved a world-record score in the short programme and beat Patrick Chan of Canada, world champion for three years running, in the free skate. Hanyu is inarguably the best male skater in the world.
He fell on two jumps in the free skate, apparently due to the heavy pressure that is unique to the Olympics. In spite of the mistakes, however, Hanyu never gave up. His outstanding expressiveness, which took advantage of his long limbs, captivated the audience.
Hanyu hugged his coach in celebration of his great accomplishment. However, he also said he was disappointed in himself “because I’m not satisfied with my performance”.
His aspiration to perform perfectly surely enabled Hanyu to win a gold medal.
Hanyu is from Sendai and started skating at the age of 4. He was practising at an ice rink in the city when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck on March 11, 2011, and fled the facility while still wearing his skates.
After that, he continued to practise skating while appearing in ice shows across the country. Beginning in the 2012-2013 season, Hanyu moved his practice base to Toronto.
Salute to disaster victims
Hanyu said he wanted to keep practising in Sendai if he could. He must have skated on the big stage of the Olympics with his feelings for the people of Sendai in his heart, and his gold medal must have been the ultimate encouragement to people living in devastated areas, where restoration from the damage caused by the disaster has not progressed as much as expected.
Female figure skater Shizuka Arakawa won the gold medal at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics. With Hanyu’s gold medal in men’s figure skating, Japan’s figure skating circles have achieved major goals.
The Japan Skating Federation has held a training camp every year since 1992 to find promising young athletes from all over the country. The federation has discovered talented primary and middle school skaters through this project, dubbed the Nobeyama camp, and sent them to international competitions to gain experience while they are still young.
Hanyu and Arakawa both participated in this camp in the past.
Japanese skaters have entered the ranks of their rivals from North American and European countries, whose strength is built on a long-standing tradition of figure skating, thanks to strategically planned training measures.
However, Japan finished fifth in the team figure skating event, which made its official debut at the Sochi Olympics. The federation must nurture more pair skaters and ice dancers, whose numbers are very small in Japan.
The women’s figure skating events will take place in the final portion of the Sochi Olympics. Hanyu’s gold medal will surely serve as powerful encouragement for Mao Asada and other Japanese skaters. We hope they will perform to the best of their ability.