TOKYO (AP) — Yuzuru Hanyu has barely had time to dwell on the Olympic and world titles he won in the first quarter of 2014, yet he's already thinking about how to improve for next season.
Hanyu became the first Japanese man to claim Olympic gold in figure skating when he won at Sochi in February, making him one of the most recognizable celebrity athletes in the country. Already, defending his Olympic title at Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2018 is his priority.
"I need to work hard," Hanyu said on Thursday at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan. "I want to be successful next season and at the Olympics four years from now." With that in mind, the 19-year-old Hanyu is trying to add more quad jumps and creativity to his routine.
Before he starts training for next season, he'll be honored at a parade in his hometown of Sendai on Saturday. The city was hard hit by the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Asked who he expects his rivals to be in the coming years, Hanyu said it's too early to tell.
Hanyu burst on the scene by winning the world junior championship in 2010 and knows another young skater could emerge any time to challenge him and other skaters. "I just appeared on the world stage four years ago and never expected things to happen so fast," Hanyu said. "So four years from now who knows? There will be young skaters coming up and I'll be older so you never know who will challenge you."
Japan had half of the top six finishers in the men's program at Sochi, impressive for a nation that until 2010 never stepped on the men's podium. Tatsuki Machida, who finished fifth in Sochi, is 24 and still has a bright future ahead of him. Daisuke Takahashi, sixth in Sochi, is 28 and recently announced he is taking a year off from competitive skating.
Hanyu became the first figure skater to break the 100-point mark with a spectacular performance in the men's short program at Sochi and then held on to become the first Japanese male to win gold. In addition to the Olympic gold, Hanyu won the 2014 world championships and the Grand Prix title. He'll be looking to defend his world title at the 2015 worlds from March 23-29 in Shanghai.