Hanyu pulls out of worlds

AFP-JIJI

Figure skating gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu will not compete in this month’s world championships in Italy due to injury, the Japan Skating Federation said Wednesday.

Hanyu requires “two weeks of rest and three months of rehabilitation” for damaged ligaments in his right ankle, as well as other injuries, the federation said in a statement.

“As the result of medical diagnosis, I am not able to compete in the World Championships, but I will focus on treatment and rehabilitation so that I can return to full health as soon as possible,” Hanyu said in the same statement.

“I will continue to do what I can, little by little.”

The 23-year-old, who originally sustained the injury in November, grabbed gold in Pyeongchang, becoming the first man in 66 years to capture back-to-back Olympic figure skating gold medals.

After returning from Pyeongchang, Hanyu revealed he had won gold despite his ankle being at barely one quarter of full fitness.

“To be honest, if I compare the situation of my ankle now from the worst time, the pain has only improved by 20-30 percent,” said Hanyu.

Japan was distraught when Hanyu fell and twisted his ankle while attempting a quadruple lutz during practice on the eve of the NHK Trophy in November, threatening his Olympic participation.

Then the nation erupted in euphoria as the injured star returned and soared to the gold in South Korea after avoiding the media spotlight for several weeks.

His feats in Sochi in 2014 and Pyeongchang last month prompted the government to consider him for the People’s Honor Award, one of the highest accolades offered by the prime minister.

The World Championships take place in Milan between March 21 and 25.

At last year’s event in Helsinki, Hanyu led a Japanese one-two finish with Shoma Uno, who earned silver in Pyeongchang.