Hanyu has been competing in the Olympics since he was 19, when he became the youngest men’s champion since 1948 and the first Asian man to win the gold medal for figure skating in Sochi — catapulting him to massive fame and placing him in the role of unlikely diplomat between China and Japan.
The retirement comes after Hanyu injured his ankle during practice for this year’s Olympic games. He also fell while trying to complete the quadruple triple axel, but still came in fourth place. Afterwards, he said his ankle hurt so badly he “definitely” would have considered forfeiting if it were “any other competition.” The drive!
“This never ends,” Hanyu said at a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday. “I’m not retiring or anything. I’m going to be better and I will work hard in my performances in a way that will make you think I am worth watching.”
“I will be extremely sad if people don’t want to watch me anymore, but even then, I will try my best from now on so that people feel like there’s a reason to still watch my skating,” Hanyu said. “I want to work even harder on the quadruple axel, and be able to successfully land it in front of all of you.”
Not only is Hanyu coming away with gold medals, record-breaking stats, and the improved relations of the Eastern Hemisphere on his hands, he also has enough Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals to last a lifetime. In lieu of flowers, his supporters would throw hundreds of stuffed Pooh bears onto the ice for him, after he was seen sporting a Winnie the Pooh tissue box in 2010.