Sports

Japanese Olympians focus on ending 2022 season on post-Beijing high


In the wake of the Beijing Games, Japanese Olympians must put the highs and lows of China behind them and deal with the challenge of returning their focus to training and regular competition.

After 19 days of competition across

109 events, the Winter Olympics officially ended Sunday with the closing ceremony.

For some athletes, the Olympic experience was a dream come true, while for others it was a nightmare on one or more levels, even if there were some valuable lessons to take for safekeeping.

The next competition that awaits Yuma Kagiyama and Shoma Uno, the respective silver and bronze medalists in men’s figure skating, is the world championships that will take place from March 23 to 26 in Montpellier, France.

Both skaters train on the Chukyo University rink in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, with 18-year-old Kagiyama, who was making his Olympic debut, and 24-year-old Uno, who won singles medals in back-to-back games, seeking their first world title.

“I want to consider it a new start and put all I’ve got into my performance,” said Kagiyama.

“Finally, I’ll get to practice the way I want to,” Uno said, referring to the suboptimal training environment in Beijing. “I hope to do well (at worlds).”

Yuzuru Hanyu, who finished fourth in Beijing, is still considering his participation at the worlds. The two-time Olympic gold medalist revealed in a post-event news conference that he suffered a serious ankle injury in Beijing and has been told to stay off the ice for now.

Speed skaters do not have much time to dwell on their Olympic results, either.

Next up for Miho Takagi, who came home with four medals, including a gold in the women’s 1,000 meters where she set an Olympic record, is the world speed skating championships which open March 3 in Hamar, Norway, followed by the World Cup final in Heerenveen, Netherlands, on March 12 and 13.

“My season hasn’t ended yet. I want to start over with a clean slate,” Takagi said.

Ski jumper Ryoyu Kobayashi, who won normal hill gold and large hill silver, returns to the World Cup circuit in Europe and rejoins the race for the men’s overall World Cup title.

Sara Takanashi will be trying to forget her traumatic Olympic experience in which she had a jump disqualified for violating guidelines on the suit she wore while competing in the mixed team ski jumping. She also failed to win a medal in the individual event but must shake that off to prepare for the next World Cup event.

“I want to learn to accept things as they are and move forward,” she said.

Elsewhere, freestyle skier Ikuma Horishima, who won an Olympic bronze in the men’s moguls, is focusing on his campaign to claim his first crystal globe next month.

Men’s snowboard halfpipe gold medalist Ayumu Hirano said he will take a brief break to evaluate his current plan and set goals for the future.

Loco Solare, the silver medal-winning women’s curling team, will not compete in the March 19-27 world championships in Canada. The Chubu Electric Power team has been entered instead.

Japan had its best-ever showing at a Winter Games with 18 medals in Beijing — three gold, six silver and nine bronze — and ranked 12th in the medal standings.

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