Daisuke Takahashi announces return to competition in stunner

Kyodo

Former world champion and men’s Vancouver Olympic bronze medalist Daisuke Takahashi on Sunday announced his return to competitive figure skating after hanging up his skates in 2014.

“It’s been four years, but I thought I want to give my full attention to figure skating. In order to make that happen, I have to be able to skate like I used to, and the answer to that was returning to the competitive scene,” Takahashi told a news conference.

The 32-year-old Takahashi retired from competition in October 2014, saying he had been struggling to keep his motivation since before the Sochi Games earlier that year. But he said Sunday that watching skaters compete at last year’s Japan national championships made him rethink his decision.

“Watching those skaters from different backgrounds, with varied goals inspired me. I began to think, ‘I want to be pumped up and competing again. I want to skate,’ ” he said. “I began feeling that was what I really wanted to do, and that feeling grew and grew.

“I know it will be difficult to make up for the four-year absence, but I want to push my body, train and perform to feel a sense of accomplishment, which I didn’t have when I retired,” he said.

Takahashi was the first Japanese man to win a world title at junior and senior level, a Grand Prix Final and an Olympic medal.

The five-time national champion finished sixth at the 2014 Sochi Games, won by countryman Yuzuru Hanyu, who was then 19. Takahashi was unable to compete at the worlds later that year, and has not competed since.

“After the Olympics, I was hurt and wasn’t able to compete in the worlds, and at that time, it came with a sense of relief, perhaps because I didn’t have that next competition to build toward,” Takahashi said. “And for four years it was like that, until last year, when I began to think that what’s needed for me to move forward is active competition.”

He is a three-time Olympian, having also competed at the 2006 Turin Games. He won the bronze medal at the 2010 Olympics before winning the world championships the following month. He was runner-up at the worlds in 2007 and 2012.

Takahashi’s coach, 67-year-old Utako Nagamitsu, blamed herself for Takahashi retiring before he was really ready to walk away.

“Four years ago, at the worlds, his (right) knee was in bad shape,” Nagamitsu said. “It was my recommendation that if he was too worried about it he should quit. That was the worst instruction and it held him back.

“I’ll be so happy if he can return to compete at the nationals.”