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Poohs your daddy! Hanyu not done after Olympic double

18 Feb 2018, 17:02 IST
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Pyeongchang, Feb 18 (AFP) Japans "Ice Prince" Yuzuru Hanyu has promised theres plenty more to come after he became the first man to capture back-to-back Olympic figure skating gold in 66 years.

The 23-year-old broke the pain barrier in Pyeongchang after a brave free skate on Saturday that Hanyu revealed had required painkilling shots to help him land jumps on his crocked ankle.

"Ive achieved my dream but Ive got no plans to quit skating," Hanyu told a news conference on Sunday.

"Honestly, I feel refreshed, I feel satisfied -- I feel like Ive done what I came here to do. It was a tough assignment but if it had all been plain sailing maybe I wouldnt have been able to win gold."

Despite his slender frame and child-like fixation with Winnie the Pooh, Hanyu is a tough cookie, and one who is perhaps lucky to be alive.

As a teenager he watched in horror as a massive 2011 earthquake caused the ice to crack beneath his skates as he practised in his hometown of Sendai in northern Japan.

Hanyu has already set his sights on his next goal -- the quadruple axel, a jump so technically difficult, since it requires four and a half mid-air rotations, that no skater has yet managed to execute it.

"I couldnt nail my jumps without painkillers and there were moments I thought about quitting," he said of his sore ankle.

"The injury was my biggest enemy. But I love skating and once I get my ankle right again I have just one thing left to motivate me -- the quadruple axel."

Hanyu, who imposed a media blackout as he trained in secrecy before the Games, also gave a rare insight into the constant pressure he lives under as one of Japans biggest sporting celebrities.

"If Im being totally honest, I dont want people to hate me," said Hanyu, who -- like footballer Hidetoshi Nakata and baseball player Ichiro Suzuki before him -- has increasingly become a target for Japans salacious weekly magazines.

"The more people see you and the more you talk, the more they dislike you and write things about you," he added.

"I imagine more fake stories will probably be written about me in the future. But nothing will change the fact Ive created history and Im proud of that."

- Squashed tangerine -

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Hanyus gutsy free skate, which followed a flawless short programme a day earlier, sparked "Yuzu-mania" in the crowd as a shower of stuffed Pooh bears rained onto the ice.

Even Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe got a little carried away as Hanyu swept to gold.

The PM called Hanyu to congratulate him and in a phone call made public by the Japanese government admitted he had got so excited watching on television that he "almost squashed a tangerine I was holding to a pulp".

Hanyus successful defence of the title he won in Sochi four years ago broke the internet with millions of tweets posted within just an hour of his emotional victory.

An expectant Japan, not to mention Hanyus legions of fans around the world, will now wonder whether their hero will dare to dream of an Olympic hat-trick at the 2022 Beijing Games.

"I havent thought about the next Olympics," said Hanyu. "Im just thinking of getting my ankle healed properly."

Hanyu did raise eyebrows after playfully pinching the cheek of countryman and silver medallist Shoma Uno while on the medals podium.

"Rather than a little brother hes more like a puppy," he said of his 20-year-old team-mate.

"Hes not my pet, but he is really cute

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