Three-time world champion Mao Asada is aiming for the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, she said publicly for the first time on Tuesday.

"As an athlete, the desire to compete in the Olympics, the grandest stage is strong," Mao, a silver medalist at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, said at an event in Tokyo. "I think that is my ultimate goal."

Mao, 25, took a year off after winning the world championship in 2014, and had a comeback year that was fraught with frustration, culminating in a seventh-place at last month's worlds.

"Because I came back with a strong resolve, no matter what happens, my will to see this through to the finish is strong," she said.

"I believe I can still compete for some years. At the very end, I want to have a skating career in which I did all I could, in which it was good to have made a comeback and from which I can walk away with a smile on my face."

That said, Mao admitted to times when her mind was clouded with doubt, thinking, "It would have been better not to have returned."

Still, she said, the dream of an Olympic triumph remains.

"One wants to do well and finish well (in the standings)," she said. "Those are things you have to aspire to. As the years progress one by one, if Pyeonchang is there at the end waiting for me, I'll be happy."