Japan’s “Ice Prince” Yuzuru Hanyu revealed today that he clinched figure skating Olympic gold despite his injured ankle being at barely a quarter of full fitness.
The 23-year-old told an overflowing press conference on his return from Pyeongchang that he had spent his time off the ice studying his injury online.
“To be honest, if I compare the situation of my ankle now from the worst time, the pain has only improved by 20-30 percent,” said Hanyu.
“However, despite this, with the use of painkillers, I was able to achieve a gold medal.”
To national outpourings of joy, the Japanese superstar became the first man to capture back-to-back Olympic figure skating gold medals in 66 years.
Japan was distraught when he fell and twisted his ankle attempting the ultra-tough quadruple Lutz jump during practice on the eve of the NHK Trophy in November, threatening his Olympic participation.
Hanyu’s recovery was completed in secrecy with the Japanese media poring over every snippet of news or hint from his camp as to whether he would be able to compete in Pyeongchang.
Hanyu today acted out his next challenge for the media: the quadruple Axel. It is a jump requiring four and a half rotations which is so technically difficult that no skater has yet managed to execute it.
After winning a second gold, his goal now was to complete his “dream” of landing the quadruple Axel in competition, he said.
He added that he “wants to try to challenge” for an unprecedented quintuple jump, something his coach has encouraged him to believe he can achieve.
Hanyu also revealed an unusual gold medal-winning diet: he always eats rice before a competition as he said it gives him power to complete jumps and twists
“Maybe this is very Japanese, but personally, bread, cereals and pasta don’t give me power.
“Actually, I’m not really that interested in meals . . . I sometimes go to McDonalds, I drink fizzy soft drinks and I sometimes have chips,” said Hanyu. “No matter what I eat, I never seem to put on any weight.”