TOKYO (AFP) – Former world champion Daisuke Takahashi said Tuesday he has decided to retire from competitive figure skating, ending a career that brought Japanese male singles skating to world prominence.
“I am yet to decide what to do next. But I have decided to retire,” said the bronze medallist from the 2010 Vancouver Olympic.
“To move on with my life – and the remaining part of my life will be long – I needed to draw a line and retire from competition,” said Takahashi, who for years has struggled with nagging knee pain that has affected his recent performance.
Takahashi, 28, dubbed the “prince on ice” by his legion of female followers, made the announcement in a nationally televised press conference, shortly before the new ISU figure skating grand prix season starts later this month.
One of Japan’s most admired athletes, Takahashi dazzled judges and fans with his brilliant step and spin sequences.
He appeared in three winter Olympic Games, Turin 2006, Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014.
Takahashi was the first Japanese male figure skater to get an Olympic medal, to become the world champion (in 2010) and to win the ISU Grand Prix Final (in 2012).
Relatively short at 1.65 metres (5ft 5in), Takahashi competed with likes of retired greats Evgeni Plushenko of Russia and Swiss star Stephane Lambiel as well as his compatriot and reigning world champion Yuzuru Hanyu, who became the first Japanese male figure skater to win Olympic gold at Sochi this year.
Takahashi reached the peak of his career after tearing ligaments in his right knee that forced him to miss the 2008-2009 season.
But his performances began to deteriorate in recent years, and saw more disappointments than celebrations in the 2013-2014 season.
He finished sixth in the Sochi Olympics, won by Hanyu, effectively handing over the mantle of the sport to his young rival.
After the Sochi Games, Takahashi was diagnosed with chronic joint inflammation in his right knee that required him to rest for weeks.
Takahashi was recently the subject – as a victim – of a sexual harassment scandal, stemming from a booze-fuelled party at which he was repeatedly hugged and kissed by the 49-year-old woman in charge of his sport.