It was 17 February 2018 and Yuzuru Hanyu had just become the first figure skater for 66 years to retain the men’s singles Olympic title.

But for the Japanese superstar, his victory at the PyeongChang Games felt like it was the first time. “To be honest, I did not really feel like I won the gold medal at the Sochi Olympics,” Hanyu told “So, this time I had a strong desire to grab the victory with my own hands.”

A renowned perfectionist and his own harshest critic, Hanyu had not felt fulfilled by his performance in Russia four years earlier. Aged just 19, he had fallen twice in the opening minute of his free skate before dusting himself off to produce a mesmerising performance that secured gold.

But for Hanyu, PyeongChang offered the chance for redemption on what he considers the grandest stage. “Every competition is very important to me,” the two-time world champion said. “However, the Olympics is not only a sporting event held every four years; it is also the competition that I have been dreaming of since I was young.

“I have always devoted myself to skating, aiming to win at the Olympics. I have always thought that I would never be a true winner unless I win at the Olympics.

“I have come to think of the Olympics as a special competition because I have seen that the pioneers trained hard for it and …

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