Hanyu won gold with injured ankle 'only 20-30% better'

His recovery was completed in ultra secrecy with the Japanese media poring over every detail

Afp February 27, 2018
Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu wants to complete the ultra-difficult quadruple axel. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO, JAPAN: Japan's "Ice Prince" Yuzuru Hanyu revealed Tuesday that he clinched figure skating Olympic gold despite his injured ankle being at barely a quarter of full fitness.

Speaking at an overflowing press conference on his return from Pyeongchang in Korea, the 23-year-old told reporters he had spent his time off the ice studying his injury online.

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"To be honest, if I compare the situation of my ankle now from the worst time, the pain has only improved by 20-30 per cent," said the 23-year-old. "However, despite this, with the use of painkillers, I was able to achieve a gold medal."

To national outpourings of joy, the Japanese celebrity superstar skater became the first man to capture back-to-back Olympic figure skating gold medals in 66 years.

Japan was distraught when he fell and twisted his ankle attempting the ultra-tough quadruple Lutz during practice on the eve of the NHK Trophy in November.

His recovery was completed in ultra secrecy with the Japanese media poring over every detail and hint from his camp as to whether he was going to compete in Pyeongchang.

Hanyu entertained the assembled journalists by acting out his next challenge -- the quadruple axle, a jump requiring four and a half mid-air rotations which is so technically difficult that no skater has yet managed to execute it.

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"It's like doing 40 jumps with your eyes closed," he said, adding that his motivation now after winning the second gold was to complete his "dream" of landing this jump in competition.

Hanyu also revealed an unusual gold-medal-winning diet for a top athlete. He said he always ate rice before a competition "as this gives me the power" for jumps and twists.

However, he added: "Actually, I'm not really that interested in meals ... I sometimes go to McDonalds, I drink fizzy soft drinks and I sometimes have chips."

"No matter what I eat, I never seem to put on any weight."