Japanese icon Yuzuru Hanyu withdraws from the competition

Japanese icon Yuzuru Hanyu withdraws from the competition

Japanese figure skating icon Yuzuru Hanyu announced he is retiring from competition on Tuesday but will continue his quest to land the elusive quadruple axel as a professional exhibition skater.

After missing his third consecutive Olympic gold at the Beijing Games in February, the 27-year-old two-time world champion left it unclear if he would ever compete on the ice again.

Two-time Olympic figure skating gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu smiles during a news conference in Tokyo July 19, 2022. The 27-year-old announced his retirement from the competition. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

“I will no longer be able to compare myself to other competitors,” he said at a press conference in Tokyo. “But I will continue to fight my weaknesses and my past self.”

“In terms of results, I achieved what I could achieve. I didn’t want to be judged anymore.”

IN PHOTOS: Memories of Yuzuru Hanyu, undisputed King of Ice

He narrowly missed becoming the first athlete to land the quad axel in competition during his free skating in Beijing, and fell attempting the four-and-a-half rotation jump.

Composite photo taken on February 10, 2022 shows Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu attempting a quadruple axel during the men’s figure skating routine at the Beijing Winter Olympics at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Hanyu, also a four-time Grand Prix finalist and six-time national champion, withdrew from the World Championships in March after failing to recover from an ankle sprain he sustained in Beijing.

“I’ve followed the Quad Axel all the way to Beijing, but I feel like I can do it, not necessarily in competitions… I actually feel like there’s a chance for more people to experience it (in person).”

“I made the decision (to stop competing) after Beijing… I’ve thought through a lot of things and I feel like I don’t need to be on the same stage anymore, while at the same time feeling more determined to get better and stronger.”

Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu performs his free skating at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, February 17, 2018. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

A native of Sendai in northeast Japan’s Tohoku region, Hanyu inspired victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the area by winning the 2014 Sochi Games.

Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan smiles at the awards ceremony after winning the gold medal in men’s figure skating at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia February 15, 2014. Hanyu was the first Japanese to win Olympic figure skating gold. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

He made a historic defense of his Olympic gold at the 2018 Pyeongchang Gameswho is the first since American Dick Button to accomplish the feat in the sport in 66 years.

Injuries have been a constant in Hanyu’s illustrious career.

Hanyu made an injury comeback at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics after damaging ligaments in his right ankle while training for the NHK Trophy in November 2017. Three months before Beijing 2022, another ligament injury to the same ankle forced him to withdraw from the NHK Trophy again.

Defending champion and Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu falls while training for the NHK Trophy in Osaka November 9, 2017, and the injury was so bad that he required treatment. Hanyu, who was targeting his third straight NHK title over the weekend, appeared to have injured his right ankle in a fall in 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 left to give” and needed time to think about his future.

“It doesn’t matter in which area,” 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 show “Fantasy on Ice” held in Japan in May and June.

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 as a teenager in Sochi in 2014.

Japanese figure skating superstar Yuzuru Hanyu is pictured on an ice rink in November 2000 at the age of five. (Photo courtesy of Hanyu’s family) (Kyodo)

He is the youngest recipient of the Japanese government’s People’s Honor Award. after receiving the award at the age of 23 from then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Two-time Olympic figure skating champion Yuzuru Hanyu (L) laughs with former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he receives the People’s Honor Award at a ceremony at the Prime Minister’s office in Tokyo July 2, 2018. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Photo taken in Sendai, July 19, 2022 shows a copy of a special edition of a local newspaper reporting that two-time Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu, 27, who is from the northeastern Japan city, has decided to withdraw from competition skating (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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