Japan’s double Olympic figure skating champion Yuzuru Hanyu joined other PyeongChang 2018 gold medallists at a very special spring party in Tokyo.
The event was hosted by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.
Held in the Akasaka Imperial Gardens, Hanyu was one of around 2,500 invited guests.
Olympians out in force
Also in attendance were speedskating sisters Miho and Nana Takagi, who won gold together at the Winter Olympics in the women’s team pursuit.
Nao Kodaira – who became Japan’s first ever female Olympic champion in speed skating by wining the 500 metres – was also present at the party which drew guests from the worlds of sport, arts, entertainment and politics.
One of those Hanyu mingled with was Japan’s shogi champion, Yoshiharu Habu.
Shogi is a chess-like game popular in the country
‘Ice Prince’ Hanyu spoke afterwards of his conversation with Japan’s royal family.
“The Emperor, Empress and other imperial family members had kind words for me, and this very much inspired me as I carry on with competitive figure skating,” he told kyodonews.net
The 23-year-old skater also chatted about the ankle injury that had threatened to derail the defence of his Olympic title.
Hanyu suffered ligament damage during practice for the NHK Trophy last November.
“The injury limited my training shortly before the Olympics, but I believe I had done a lot up until I sustained the injury,” he recalled.
“I realised things that I had missed during daily training. In that sense, it was a good opportunity (to accept that challenge).”
By his own admission, Hanyu was not at full fitness at PyeongChang 2018.
But that still did not stop him becoming the first man since the USA’s Dick Button in 1952 to capture back-to-back Olympic titles.
Hanyu is still recovering from the exertions of the Olympics, and was not able to compete at the World Championships last month.
However, he recently surprised fans by lacing up his boots and taking part in his own show.
This week the figure skater took part in a parade in his honour back in his hometown of Sendai.
More than a hundred thousand fans lined the streets to celebrate his Olympic achievement.