Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Figure skating icon Mao Asada, who shocked the country with her abrupt announcement of retirement from competitive skating this week, said Wednesday she made the right decision to end her career.
“I’ve done all I can and feel fine,” Asada, 26, said with her signature radiant smile at a press conference.
“Figure skating was my life,” Asada, a silver medalist in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and three-time world champion, said before more than 400 members of the press. “I just loved skating.”
She thanked her fans and the people who have supported her, saying it was because of them that she was able to overcome many difficulties.
Asada, credited with boosting the popularity of figure skating in Japan since her years in junior competitions, announced on her official blog on Monday that she was hanging up her skates.
Appearing at the press conference on Wednesday in a white blouse, a white jacket and a black skirt, Asada said her decision to retire came after she finished 12th in this season’s Japan national championships last December.
“When all the results were out, I thought, ‘It’s over,’” she said. “I thought maybe I’d done enough.”
After the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Asada took a break from competition for about a year. Although she made a comeback with the goal of competing in the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, she struggled to achieve high levels of performance.
“I thought I had to achieve the goal I mentioned,” she said. “I had inner conflicts.”
Looking back on the two years since her comeback, Asada said she often found it difficult to keep going both mentally and physically.
“I called up all my strength. I have no regrets,” she said.
Asked to name the one performance that stands out in her memory, Asada cited her free skate program in the Sochi Olympics, a powerful performance including a triple axel jump that lifted her from 16th place after the short program to finish sixth and touched many fans in Japan.
Affectionately known as “Mao-chan,” Asada built her stellar career with highly challenging triple axel jumps, which only a few other female skaters can perform.
“Triple axel was my strength and was also what made me suffer,” she said.
Toward the end of the press conference, Asada once again expressed her gratitude for those who have supported her and shed tears.
*This interview is conducted in Japanese.
[Released on April 12, 2017]