Tokyo (AFP) – Figure skating Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu will not compete in this month’s World Championships in Italy due to injury, Japan’s Skating Federation said on Wednesday.
Hanyu requires “two weeks of rest and three months of rehabilitation” for damaged ligaments in his right ankle, as well as other injuries, the federation said in a statement.
“As the result of medical diagnosis, I am not able to compete in the World Championships, but I will focus on treatment and rehabilitation so that I can return to full health as soon as possible,” Hanyu said in the same statement.
“I will continue to do what I can little-by-little.”
The 23-year-old, who originally suffered the injury in November, grabbed gold in Pyeongchang, becoming the first man to capture back-to-back Olympic figure skating gold medals in 66 years.
Hanyu revealed on his return from the Winter Olympics that he had won gold despite his ankle being at barely one quarter of full fitness.
“To be honest, if I compare the situation of my ankle now from the worst time, the pain has only improved by 20-30 percent,” said Hanyu.
But he has also expressed a wish to continue competing at the top level, with his eye on the quadruple Axel.
It is a jump requiring four-and-a-half rotations which is so technically difficult that no skater has yet managed to execute it.
Japan was distraught when Hanyu fell and twisted his ankle attempting the ultra-tough quadruple Lutz jump during practice on the eve of the NHK Trophy in November, threatening his Olympic participation.
Then the nation erupted in euphoria as the injured celebrity soared to take gold in South Korea after staying out of the media for weeks and training in Canada.
His gold-winning feats in Sochi in 2014 and Pyeongchang last month prompted the government to consider him for the People’s Honour Award, one of the highest accolades offered by the prime minister.
The World Championships take place in Milan between March 21 and 25.
At last year’s event in Helsinki, Hanyu led a Japanese one-two with Shoma Uno, who clinched silver in Pyeongchang.