Hanyu breaks 66-year old record to defend men’s figure skating title

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PyoengChang, Feb 17 (IANS) Japanese Yuzuru Hanyu became the first figure skater in 66 years to win back-to-back Winter Olympic gold medals in the men’s singles event as he won Japan’s first gold medal at PyeongChang Games on Saturday.

Hanyu won the title with 317.85 points, beating compatriot Shoma Uno and multiple world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain to the second and third on 306.90 and 305.24 respectively. Chinese Jin Boyang was fourth with 297.77 points in total, reports Xinhua news agency.

“I have no words right now. I am overwhelmed. I am just happy with my performance and my hard training and everything,” said a teary Hanyu, who emulated American Dick Button’s feats of 1948 and 1952.

“This is the best day of my skating life. My tears were from my heart. I can find one word and that is happy,” the 23-year-old, who also became the 1,000th gold medal winner in the history of Winter Olympics, added.

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More than 5,000 spectators in Gangneung Ice Arena might feel the waves of Deja vu when Hanyu, in a delicately-embroidered costume of ancient Japanese ghost chaser, replayed Seimei, a defining programme he staged in 2015-2016 season to bring him to the peak of his career back then, but in a more ethereal way on Saturday.

Despite two stumbling landings after a quad salchow jump and a triple lutz jump, Hanyu finished the routine infectiously with an impressive presentation score of 96.63 points. His favourite yellow Pooh bear toys then rained down onto the rink as Japanese fans were screaming his name and waving banners with his name or cartoon images.

Hanyu, bothered with constant injuries or illness, later told a press conference that he had to “push” himself to finish some elements in the competition.

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“I have been through a lot after Sochi, like new programmes, injuries, surgeries including those for my right ankle, but I can’t quit from figure skating. I hope I can keep challenging myself bravely.”

He also attributed the gold medal to Fernandez, a “friend and best competitor” as well.

“Frankly, we both gave a quality performance today, which is not usual,” said Hanyu, smiling to the Spanish sitting side by side. “He is a great encouragement for me in the game, when he’s doing well, I wanna do better. This won’t happen through training.”

–IANS

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