LONDON, ONTARIO – Burgeoning teenage talent Yuzuru Hanyu will be looking to sparkle with a gem of a performance for Sendai when the world championships start this week.
Sendai-born Hanyu will be competing at the worlds just days after the second anniversary of the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that devastated Tohoku.
The disaster forced Hanyu and his parents to seek refuge in sheltered accommodation and temporarily left the 18-year-old without anywhere to train.
Training under the guidance of Brian Orser, the former coach of Olympic women’s champion Kim Yu Na, Hanyu now has his base to Canada but still has Sendai very close to heart.
“I am so happy that I can face the world championships on such a massive day (March 11),” Hanyu said after his first practice on Monday.
“That I have been able to perform well is because of the support I have had. The people in the disaster-hit areas will be supporting me and I want to respond with a good performance.”
Hanyu won the bronze medal behind second-placed Daisuke Takahashi at last year’s worlds in France and beat Takahashi to win the national championships in December.
“I need to do things right and get a place on the podium. Making the podium last time (at the worlds) was a miracle. I haven’t been so good in training, but hopefully I can gradually get myself in good form.”
Takahashi fell on a quad during practice but was not overly concerned as he prepared to battle Hanyu and Canada’s Patrick Chan, who will launch his second defense of the world title when the men’s short program starts Wednesday.
“My jumps aside, I don’t have any concerns about my program,” said Takahashi, the Olympic bronze medalist and 2010 world champion.
“It will be tough for me to win if I perform like I did in practice today, but I just have to give it my all.”
Takahashi became the first Japanese man to win the Grand Prix Final in Sochi, Russia, in December, but could only manage seventh place at the Four Continents in Osaka last month.
Akiko Suzuki and Kanako Murakami also trained Monday, as did Kim, who will be rekindling her long-running rivalry with Mao Asada here. Mao has yet to arrive in London.