Wrestling icon Yoshida expresses support for Mao to receive People’s Honor Award

Kyodo

Three-time Olympic women’s freestyle wrestling gold medalist Saori Yoshida said Tuesday she believes that retiring figure skater Mao Asada should be bestowed with the People’s Honor Award.

Speaking at an event in Tokyo a day after Mao announced she was calling time on her glittering career, Yoshida said, “I received the award when I won 13 straight world titles and I think Mao-chan deserves the People’s Honor Award too for all of her efforts.”

Mao’s list of achievements includes a silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, three world titles, three Four Continents titles and four Grand Prix Final titles.

“I think she was under immense pressure (during her career),” said Yoshida, who received the People’s Honor Award in 2012.

On Mao’s future, Yoshida said, “This is not the end for her. Mao-chan can try many new things with her smile and I hope she brings cheer to Japan.”

Other noted Japanese athletes bestowed with the award in the past include 2000 Sydney Olympic women’s marathon winner Naoko Takahashi and most recently Kaori Icho, who became the first female athlete to win four consecutive Olympic gold medals in an individual event at last year’s Rio Summer Games.

The government established the award in 1977 to honor Yomiuri Giants legend Sadaharu Oh, holder of the career home run record.