Ski jumper Noriaki Kasai revealed Wednesday that his younger sister, Kumiko Maekawa, died earlier this month at the age of 38.
“I’m right in the middle of the season and I can’t afford to keep dragging around this sorrow,” Kasai wrote a day after attending her funeral. “I’ve been made even stronger from today.”
On Friday, two days after his sister’s passing, Kasai soared 240.5 meters to tie his personal record at the ski flying world championship in Austria on Friday, the 43-year-old had his arm wrapped with a mourning band.
At the age of 16, his sister was diagnosed with aplastic anemia and had been in and out of hospitals ever since. She lost consciousness last May.
“I had a call from my elder sister as soon as I got to Bad Mittendorf and because she barely calls, I knew it was about my younger sister,” wrote Kasai on his blog.
“She (Kumiko) was originally told she had five years to live, but her health recovered after undergoing (umbilical) cord blood transplant surgery. However, she had been battling her disease, suffering from side effects and complications. She must have been living through painful days.”
The large hill silver medalist at the 2014 Sochi winter Olympics, Kasai finished fifth in Austria. He wrote after the tournament, “I could make a present of my best jump,” without mentioning his sister directly.
The Hokkaido native will take part in two tournaments in Sapporo this weekend before competing in the World Cup event there starting on Jan. 31.