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Olympic hero Shimizu to retire

NAGANO (Kyodo) Hiroyasu Shimizu, the 1998 Nagano Olympics’ 500-meter gold medalist, is set to retire from competitive speed skating after his bid to make a fifth consecutive Olympic appearance ended in failure Tuesday.

Shimizu said after his race in the final qualifier, “I’d like to talk about my next step at some other occasion,” but he has told his family that he would hang up his skates if he missed the last chance, according to sources close to the matter.

The 35-year-old from Hokkaido finished ninth in the 1,000 meters after Monday’s seventh-place showing in the 500 had all but shattered his Olympic hopes.

“I’m satisfied after I gave it my all,” Shimizu said. “I hope Japanese speed skaters will compete for medals in Vancouver.”

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