NAGOYA – The Aichi prefectural government said Monday it has created an honorary citizen award and selected recently retired figure skater Mao Asada as the first recipient.
The 26-year-old native of Nagoya and silver medalist at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, who announced her retirement earlier in the month, “has achieved remarkable results and given dreams and hopes transcending generations through her perseverance and smile,” the prefectural government said in a statement.
Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura praised Mao’s achievements in a press conference, describing her as an athlete endowed with rare gifts and possessing “an outstanding presence and ability to bring joy” to many people.
Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura said the city also wants to honor Mao.
“She has been loved by people all over the world and has given us hope,” Kawamura told a separate press conference.
Mao won her first Grand Prix Final title at the age of 15 in 2005. Affectionately known as “Mao-chan” in Japan, she won three world titles, three Four Continents titles and four Grand Prix Final titles.